Book Review: Broken, by AE Rought
Author: AE Rought
Publisher: Strange Chemistry, January 2013
Length: 384 pages
Price: $9.99 US/ $10.99 CAN
Seventeen-year old Emma Gentry has been floating through life in a depressed daze since her boyfriend, Daniel, died in a tragic accident four months ago. She’s finally beginning to make some progress in letting him go when newcomer Alex Franks shows up. Emma and Alex have a strange magnetism neither of them can explain, and the more they get to know each other, the more Emma Gentry is convinced, something just isn’t right with Alex Franks. When Emma visits the Franks family estate, what she finds makes her question not only her strength, but her sanity.
Broken isn’t A.E. Rought’s first novel, but it is her first YA novel, and her first novel under this pen name. The author has previously published romance novels, since 2006, but decided to enter the world of YA writing because it’s what she, herself enjoys reading. Frankly, I’m glad she did.
Rought writes a good tale, with a practiced pen. The quality of writing is fantastic, with believable characters and a storyline that moves, making it easy to sink into. Every time I was forced to put the book down, I thought about it until I got to pick it up again. There are numerous nods to classic sci-fi and horror stories and their authors throughout the book, from Shelley High School to Emma’s cat, Renfield. The author does a good job of keeping the tone of the book just on the dark side, even though most of it takes place in and around a high school, and she writes nightmares exceedingly well, always surreal, haunting, moving. Even the humor is well-placed, making me laugh out loud unexpectedly more than once, without ever upsetting the overall tone of the book.
The cruelty of gossip and rumors in a high school environment is a major theme in Broken, but Emma is not the type of character to be victimized by it. When she chooses not to ignore flung insults, she gives back as good as she gets, if not even better, making her a stronger female character that a lot of readers will be able to identify with and perhaps gain some strength from. From time to time, she’s even gone so far as to feed the rumor mill, recognizing it for what it is and playing with it just for fun – an idea that, if properly executed, could empower a lot of young adults who are trying to wend their way through high school with their sanity and sense of self-worth intact.
More than anything, Broken asks questions about self-identity and how we identify with others. What is it that makes each of us uniquely us? None of us wants to be just like someone else. We take pride in our small differences, our idiosyncrasies that we usually look to for proof that we are individuals, that we have something of value that no one other person can offer in one package.
Broken is one of those books you wish didn’t have to end, but you find yourself racing towards the last page despite yourself. I would recommend Broken to readers who have a love of YA, science fiction and horror, paranormal romance, or just a great story to sink into on a cold winter weekend. The expected release date is January 8, 2013 in the US and Canada, January 3, 2013 in the UK, Australia, and on eBook. Add this one to your Goodreads lists; you don’t want to forget it.