Title: Broken Things
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: October 18th 2018
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.
With all the intensity and whiplash turns of Gone Girl and One of Us Is Lying, this engrossing psychological thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver is an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale of exquisite obsession, spoiled innocence, and impossible friendships.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
In the five years since their best friend, Summer, was killed Brynn and Mia have found different ways of coping with the fact that the townspeople believe they’re the ones who murdered her. Brynn has shuffled herself through various rehab clinics while Mia has become a shut in, home-schooled and living alone with her mother, but when Mia finds an old copy of The Way into Lovelorn, the book the three girls used to be obsessed with, it pulls her back towards Brynn and back into the mystery of Summer’s death.
Broken Things is told in both Brynn’s and Mia’s POVs but as well as seeing the present, the two girls reuniting to try and figure out who really killed Summer, we go back and see the key moments that defined the girls’ friendship, their obsession with The Way into Lovelorn, and the events that led to Summer’s death. It was all really well written, I never felt like I was being pulled out of the story when it jumped back in time, and the flashbacks added more mystery to the plot.
The more Brynn and Mia dig into the mystery of what happened to Summer all those years ago the more of their past they have to confront, and at the centre of it all is the old coy of The Way into Lovelorn, the book which the three girls idolised until they were unsure what was reality and what was fantasy. Finding the truth means Brynn and Mia will need to go back to the night Summer died and confront what really happened then.
I really loved this book, but one thing I would have liked to have seen was more of the blurred line between reality and the world of The Way into Lovelorn. It was what Broken Things seemed to revolve around and while the book itself was highlighted the way Brynn, Mia and Summer thought they had accidentally wandered into Lovelorn wasn’t as much. Other than that though this book was perfectly paced, and I was hooked.
Brynn has a sharp exterior, she’s loud, brash and stubborn, but underneath I think she’s the most vulnerable of the two girls. She chooses the put herself into rehab to avoid her family and her town after being blamed for Summer’s death, and there’s no one she feels she can rely on. Of the two Brynn was the closest to Summer; Brynn loved her and still does, but there are things Summer did that Brynn can’t understand and can’t forgive.
Mia has remained in her town despite the hated and scorn, but she’s shut herself away. It’s only when trying to clean up the result of her mother’s hoarding tendencies that she’s pulled back to what happened so long ago. Although the three girls were best friends Mia was sometimes left on the outside of Summer and Bryan’s duo, and while there’s a lot Summer did to Mia that hurt her she was never as trapped in the other girls’ orbit as Brynn was.
Although she died five years ago Summer is still a major character in this book. Before she died she was the centre of Brynn and Mia’s worlds, she had a presence that seemed to pull people in, but Summer was broken by her past. The more we see of Summer and through Brynn’s and Mia’s POVs the more we see a different side to the girl the town have chosen to remember as ‘perfect’, but the more your heart breaks for the girl who had no chance.
The friendship between the three girls was the centre of this story. Before Summer died they were best friends, held together by The Way into Lovelorn and Summer herself, but after what happened Brynn and Mia broke apart. Brynn blamed Mia for throwing her under the spotlight with the police and Mia was too scared and unsure to try and reach out to her once-friend. With five years having past the two girls are more different than similar, and their interactions at first are full of tension, but the bond from all those years ago is still there between them.
There are some incredible side characters, relationship development and representation in Broken Things; from Abby, Mia’s new best friend who’s also home-schooled and who identifies as omnisexual, to Owen, Mia’s first love who was also blamed for Summer’s death. The bond between Brynn and her family was well written, full of blame, pain and guilt, but the secondary character I loved the most was Wade, Brynn’s cousin. He’s disregarded as ‘creepy’ by Brynn, obsessed by discovering the truth behind what happened to Summer five years ago, but he’s the only one who’s been on hers and Mia’s side since the beginning.
When I read thrillers I like to try and guess how it will end, who the killer really is, and Broken Things kept me guessing right until the ending. I loved how Lauren Oliver chose to build the story and develop Brynn, Mia and Summer by showing flashbacks to five years ago, it offered a much deeper look at Summer’s character and what led to her death than we would have gotten if we’d just seen the present day.
What did you think of Broken Things? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.