Broken Things

Review From User :

PSA: this has gay girls in it!!! Y'all get on this!!!

It's interesting, whenever I pick up a fantasy book, I usually know from reviews beforehand if the novel has LGBT+ characters. But for some reason, with contemporary/mystery/thriller books, I have no idea until I see it explicitly on the page. This has happened to me with three different novels and I really think the universe has given me a sixth sense for finding gay girls in contemporaries.

Surprise gay girls aside, Broken Things was really not what I expected. I'm not a big contemporary reader and I really wasn't a fan of Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, so I was a little nervous going into this. But I can sincerely say I loved this with my whole heart. It hit on a lot of things I've experienced in my own life and made me feel seen in a way almost no other contemporaries have.

Books with dead girls always tend to romanticize them, always painting them as beautiful, tragic, innocent but still sexual. And while Summer is all those things at first, as the novel progresses, the reader is given such a full picture of who she really was that by the end, she's human. But this book isn't about Summer, not really. This is a book for the living. This is a book about Mia and Brynn and all the people that orbited Summer before her death, and how their lives have been touched and changed by her. The mystery of who killed Summer is important to the book, but this novel is really about toxic friendships, feeling broken, and healing from trauma.

Despite the synopsis, this novel doesn't actually have any fantasy or magical realism elements. Everything is firmly grounded in reality, but it still reads as if magic exists. As if other worlds exist alongside reality. I loved how Oliver explored the power of imagination and creativity in this, to the point where whimsy felt woven into reality. Lovelorn didn't just feel like something dreamed up by these girls, but tangible. It reminded me a lot of how I played pretend as a kid and this novel brought back that magic for me.

I was iffy about Oliver's work before, but since finishing Broken Things, I'm definitely more interested in reading her other novels. Lauren Oliver's characters were flawed but very lovable, her prose was easy-to-read but engaging, and this story touched me like almost no contemporaries have. If you're a big YA fantasy reader, I think this contemporary story may appeal to you.

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.

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