Title: Broken Things
Author: Lauren Oliver
Released: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Epic Reads
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Goodreads Rating: 3.60 (of 3474 ratings)
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It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.
Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.
The only thing is: they didn’t do it.
On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.
Well, this was a complete and utter mess. The best part about reading this was to screenshot Sha all of the messiest lines that I found so we could sip some tea and just flounder in confusion in the weirdness/horribleness of them.
Past me has enjoyed some Oliver stories in the past such as Delirium and The Vanishing Girls, but it’s been a while since I read them. When I heard of this book with the premise of a murder influenced by a book world full of darkness and fantasy, I was super intrigued. Then give me some cool hair on the cover? Yeah, sure, this girl is in.
What I got instead was…I’m trying to think of a word besides a mess but I’ve got nothing.
WHERE THIS BOOK WENT WRONG #1 BY BOOK PRINCESS MANDY: The Writing
The writing was…honestly, it felt at times like this was Oliver’s first book. The writing was convoluted and felt like it was trying SO hard to be spooky, dark, and thrillerish. There were lines in there that were just incredibly weird and strange. Here are just a few samples:
- You ever seen a meerkat? That’s what Mia looks like when she pays attention. All huge eyes and twitchy nose.
- Her skin is the color of old cheese.
- Inside, my duffel bag is open and all my clothing is scatter like guts across the floor.
It felt like Oliver was trying to make it gritty and sharp and mysterious, so she tried to insert phrases that would be seen as “dark” as they can. Instead of the grittiness, she was going for it, it just came out weird. I would be completely catapulted out of the read and the reading zone to 1) comprehend what was going on and 2) send a quick picture off to Sha to dish about this weird phrase.
WHERE THIS BOOK WENT WRONG #2 BY BOOK PRINCESS MANDY: The Characters
I feel like every mystery since the complete commercial success of Gone Girl is in fact trying to make their book much like what was worked for them. So many of them want to bring the darkness, unreliable and possibly unlikable characters, and situations that are dramatic and messy. The main characters do questionable things to show that they have a) grit and b) aren’t the cookie cutter Nancy Drew and her Hardy Boys. Basically, they a mess trying to solve a mess.
I think Oliver was going for that as well with our Mystery Gang. Mia and Brynn are, in fact, a mess. Mia was less than a mess than Brynn but still. They were cruel, selfish, and I never full connected or got them. Plus, with all the characterization that Oliver tried to give them to be dark and messy and gritty…fell really flat. Brynn has been hopping around from rehab to rehab…because she wouldn’t actually stoop so low to be actually a drug addict but because she likes the setup. It was a classic “my character is dark and conflicted and real like really real” and then it seemed like oh wait, no, we can’t actually do that and brushed over it with a sunshine paintbrush.
Plus, all the cruel thoughts and things they said and did made Brynn and Mia so UGH. I was nottttt feeling them, and wouldn’t have minded them being the actual killer. Wayne – Brynn’s creepy cousin? He somehow got to be an important character and he was just weird and creepy and like WHY. And then Abby was bunches of contradictions and the love interest for Mia – legit can’t even remember his name – was a mess. So much mess.
And Summer? Classic GG style. Nothing surprised me about what was found about her. And legit, things popped up out of NOWHERE in the middle of the book to make her even a mess and flawed.
WHERE THIS BOOK WENT WRONG #3 BY BOOK PRINCESS MANDY: The Rep
I was super excited when I found out there was going to be rep. I was looking for a bright spot, but then I started to reading the rep that Oliver gave and I felt myself melting into a pile of actual goo because she let me down on all front with it and without it being triggering.
- Oliver says LET’S DO BODY POSITIVITY!! Abby is a plus sized fashion/beauty blogger…and yet there are so many concerning comments from our lovely heroine, Brynn. Legit she fat shames her and asks her really probing questions and has a lot of interactions just due to her weight. It never really got any better either, and Abby even tried to have a conversation about weight but it felt stilted, weird, and super out of context other than to remind us that Abby is, in fact, plus sized. In one of the first instances we met Abby, her and Mia are talking about Abby getting home before a tornado hits. Abby legit smacks her belly and is like as if a tornado can touch me. Me in real time:
2. Oliver then thinks, LET’S DO PAN REP! We find out that Abby is pansexual/omnisexual in a super random fashion. Mia is just thinking about Abby and how she’s doing beauty cons and stuff and then she’s like OH BTW ABBY IS OMNISEXUAL. And then just moves right on. Later on, Mia made a comment that felt like it was shaming Abby on the fact that she expresses her sexuality and legit used the phrase “Miss Omnisexual” in reference how she’s kissed many people and Mia had kissed only 2. Later on in the book, Abby mentioned that she was a lesbian/maybe bi. So did Mia force a label on Abby? Me in real time again:
3. Oliver then thinks let’s do LESBIAN REP! Brynn likes girls, and tells us yet again in a super random format. It’s legit just like, oh, btw, I’m a lesbian, and then gives us a really really weird montage of the girls she’s hooked up with. There is a part mid-way through the novel where the girls are confronting a suspect, and Brynn is verbally abused in regards to her sexuality using slurs and other triggering language. It then just moves on. I just. I can’t.
WHERE THIS BOOK WENT WRONG #4 BY BOOK PRINCESS MANDY: The Mystery
I legit guessed the killer the exact moment he/she walked on the page. I legit squinted at the person’s name, and I’m like, oh, that’s them. I sent a picture to Sha and legit captioned it in Instagram’s squiggle lines, this is the killer. And I was right. The actual backing for it and how the ending was resolved was super confusing, underwhelming, and left a LOT lacking. It was just bleh. So much bleh.
This was a mess. So much mess. 1 crown and a Merida rating for sure. I kept wanting to DNF, but I was just so invested in the story I was sending to Sha more than the actual story. Ugh. No more hair books for me.
What do you think? What was the last mess you read? Let’s discuss in the comments below!