Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Hi friends! You all know how much I’ve been loving thrillers recently, and I was lucky enough to pick up my library hold of Broken Things by Lauren Oliver (author of Panic and the Delirium series) before I took off on my holiday across Europe earlier this month.

This book combined my three favourite things: Young Adult, true crime, and fairytale books-within-books. If you enjoyed The Hazel Wood, with its creepy collection of fairy stories (now available in book form as Tales from the Hinterland) woven through, but kind of wish the stories had stayed fictional, then you might just like this book.

Long story short, I loved it. Keep reading to find out why!

Blurb

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.


Title: Broken Things

Author: Lauren Oliver

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Things-Lauren-Oliver-ebook/dp/B0791H6451/

Rating: 4.5 stars!


Review

I loved the voice in this book, it’s so strong and entirely YA, but the themes and plot are really dark and heavy. Lauren Oliver manages to balance the absolute worst of humanity (the brutal and ritualistic murder of a young girl) with plenty of humour and lighter moments, making this an exciting read with enough tension and suspense to keep me turning the pages late into the night (cue me having nightmares – worth it).

The story is split between the POVs of Mia, a quiet but incredibly strong eighteen-year-old whose mum has a bit of a hoarding problem, and her ex-friend Brynn, the acerbic, fake-addict who has spent the last few years hiding in institutions rather than face the wrath of her neighbours. Because Mia and Brynn have been judged guilty by the residents of their small town, despite never being convicted for the murder of their best friend when they were thirteen, and life in Twin Lakes has been unbearable ever since.

With the five-year anniversary approaching, Mia stumbles across the original copy of the book the trio were obsessed with as pre-teens, The Way Into Lovelorn, and starts to wonder all over again who could have known about their obsession and used it to kill their best friend. With the help of Brynn, a curvaceous beauty influencer called Abby, and Owen, the boy who was the original suspect back when the murder first happened, they set out to uncover the real murderer and the motive behind Summer’s death.

The novel is interspersed with sections from the classic fairytale book the girls loved, as well as snippets from the fan fiction they were writing, Return to Lovelorn. There are also flashbacks to the year it all happened, and extracts from the police interviews with those involved. The pace is quick with plenty of twists and turns, the plot never slowed or dragged, and the main characters were entirely credible (although some of the secondary characters, including the antagonist, sadly, are a little two-dimensional).

I enjoyed everything about this book, from all the dance references in Mia’s chapters, to the deliciously slow revelation of the toxic friendship the three girls shared, and the pressure-cooker style atmosphere Oliver created in their tiny, oppressive town. I knocked half a star off because I sussed the killer really early on, like on the second mention of the character (Oliver later makes it a bit too obvious by highlighting the girls’ method of naming the fictionalised characters in their fan fic), and I wasn’t wholly convinced by their motivations or explanation of the crime. But it didn’t detract from the book that much for me, it was more about the journey, and I actually wouldn’t have minded if there had been no big reveal – if the killer had never been uncovered or the truth had been that Summer’s death was a suicide as a result of her traumatic childhood. (Sorry if that’s a bit of a spoiler, but there is a real killer and they do get unmasked.)

There’s also lots of great representation in this book, Brynn is a lesbian and Abby is omnisexual. Plus Abby is described as “fat and very beautiful” and is regularly portrayed as attractive and desirable, from both Mia and Brynn’s perspectives. Themes include rehabilitation facilities, home schooling, foster care, mental illness, cosplay, alcoholism, hoarding disorder, child abuse, small towns, first love, self harm and the intensity of teenage friendships.

As far as trigger warnings go, if you’re sensitive to anything related to child sexual abuse, violence towards children, self harm, drink or drug abuse, then you might want to give this one a miss. Oliver doesn’t pull any punches, and while she doesn’t go so far as to graphically depict the murder or describe Summer’s injuries in too much detail, she doesn’t shy away from the emotional impact of what happened.

This was a brilliant thriller with a great cast of characters and a fast-paced plot, I really enjoyed the way the story peeled itself back, layer by layer, until the climax became almost inevitable. But my favourite thing about this book is Lauren Oliver’s writing. There are so many quotes I could give as an example, and you can take a look at the ones highlighted on Goodreads, but I’ll leave you with this one:

“In books, secret worlds are accessible by doors or keys or other physical objects. But Lovelorn was not such a world, and appeared at whim and only when it felt like it, with a subtle change like the slow shifting of afternoon to evening.”

Lauren Oliver, Broken Things

If you adore invented fairytales or books-within-a-book, like The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The Language of Thorns and Tales From the Hinterland, or if you’re a true crime fan (check out Sadie by Courtney Summers!), or you just love a really well-written YA book with a strong voice, great characters and good mystery to unravel, then I highly recommend Broken Things!

Lyndsey

x

YA Thrillers That Will Give You Chills

Fantasy might be my one true love, but I also have a soft spot for thrillers. Crime and domestic thrillers are my usual jam, but recently I’ve read some absolutely brilliant, gripping YA thrillers, so I wanted to share some recommendations with you! I know, I’m good like that.

So, if you’re looking for a gripping thrill-ride that’ll keep you up at night turning the pages and leave you gaping at the final line, you’re in the right place. Here we go…

One of Us is Lying & One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

Now a Netflix Original series! I read One of Us is Lying a few years ago when it was released, and I really enjoyed it and bought the sequel straight away when it came out, but I never got round to reading it. That is, until the Netflix adaptation came out, and whilst it was a fun watch, I knew I remembered things differently in the book. It prompted me to pick up One of Us is Next and finally read it, to see what happened after Simon. Well, I flew through it in a couple of days, I think I actually enjoyed book two and the new generation of Bayview students even more than the first book! I even went out straight away and bought Two Can Keep a Secret (another book by Karen M. McManus, but not in the same series) so I’d have another thriller by the same author to read when I get the craving again.

I highly recommend these books if you like shows like 13 Reasons Why, and of course, the recent One of Us is Lying Netflix adaptation! There’s a third book, titled One of Us is Back, coming out next year, so there’s plenty of time to get caught up with the Bayview Four.


This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

I grabbed this book off the shelf when I bought Two Can Keep a Secret – it was sitting right next to it, I’m fairly sure there was some kind of two for £7 deal, and I mean, look at that cover? It looked like exactly what I was craving in my post-One of Us is Next rush. And I wasn’t wrong. Like a cross between Cluedo (that’s Clue to my American friends) and Riverdale, this book had me up late and reading on my lunch break at work to find out what happened and who did what to who, when and why.

This one is somewhat darker than the One of Us series, with strong Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale vibes (that dolls house in PLL is pure This Lie Will Kill You, and Ruby, one of the MCs, is a total Cheryl). It dances on the line between thriller and horror, but without the gore, so if you’re in the mood for a chilling and suspenseful read, then this one’s for you.


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

This is one I haven’t read yet, but I’ve heard good things and can’t wait to dive in! Here’s the blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

The blurb reminds me a bit of Sadie, which I absolutely adored, so this will be jumping up to the top of my TBR!


Sadie by Courtney Summers

Speaking of Sadie, I listened to the audio book last summer and was blown away by this incredible book! Told through the POV of Sadie, who is hunting for her younger sister’s killer, and a podcast hosted by an investigative journalist who is trying to find Sadie, it’s layered and complex but so gripping and tense.

If you can, I highly recommend listening to the audio of this one, as it really does show the whole podcast format in the best way. But there is a lot of very triggering content in this one, so please do be aware before diving in, if you’re likely to be triggered by themes of sexual assault and child abuse.


Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

This is another one I’m yet to read, but I loved Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series, and the blurb for this one is just too good to pass up.

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. 

Now, some of the reviews have called it predictable, but I’m actually okay with that. I love a shocking twist as much as the next girl (Gone Girl, I’m looking at you) but I really enjoy the journey towards the truth and even if I call the killer in the first few chapters, I probably can’t guess every element of what went on, so there’s still plenty to discover. Plus, I really like being right, so there’s that.

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Last, but not least, is this from the author of Anna Dressed in Blood (my FAVOURITE YA horror) and Three Dark Crowns. Kendare Blake is an incredible author, so this 1950s set, true crime inspired thriller with a potentially supernatural twist (Kendare calls it “true crime with a vampire”) sounds like my dream read. Here’s the blurb:

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere.

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to.

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

Right? Right?? I’m off to buy and read this book immediately.

Happy reading friends,

Lyndsey x

The Solitary King is out now!

My second book baby, The Solitary King, has been out in the world for over a week now, and I’m so proud of how much this little book has achieved so far!

Over sixty preorders for the Kindle ebook, plus over thirty copies sold of all three formats since 31 Jan, and hundreds of pages read in KU. And already a handful of lovely reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I can’t thank everyone who has bought or borrowed this book enough, I know it’s only my second published book but this launch has surpassed anything I could ever have imagined. I’m so glad everyone is enjoying Aria and Xander’s story!

If you haven’t read book one, The Fair Queen, yet you can get it here.

If you do read The Fair Chronicles, I’d really appreciate if you could leave a quick review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be long, but reviews are so important for authors, especially us indie authors, and help us to reach new readers.

Thank you so much for supporting me on this crazy self publishing journey! I couldn’t do it without you.

Lyndsey x