Broken by AE Rought

Rating 8.5/10
Broken is very much Twilight meets Frankenstein.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell. She and Daniel had been made for each other. When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely...familiar. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, she knows...

Broken by A. E. Rought is a modern day retelling of Frankenstein, in young adult romance form. I can see the eye rolls through the screen already, so you will have to trust me when I say this is a well written book worth reading.

Broken tells the story of Emma Gentry, a young girl who is trying to come to terms with the death of her boyfriend Daniel in a freak accident. It's been nearly twelve months of grieving when a new kid, the mysterious Alex Franks, enrols at Shelley High School. The chemistry between Emma and Alex is immediate, is the source of much gossip, and forces Emma to process a huge range of emotions from fierce attraction to the feeling of being unfaithful to Daniel's memory. The problem is that Alex is so similar to Daniel, from the way he talks to his mannerisms and even at times his physical appearance.

Ok, so the big spoiler is written on the blurb and is openly used by the author and publisher when describing this book - Broken is a modern day retelling of Frankenstein - so unless you have never heard of Frankenstein, you should be able to figure out what is going on with this story. I've seen a few people complaining about being given this knowledge up front, but I think it was actually a very clever idea. Knowing that this is a Frankenstein retelling creates immediate tension - you know who the monster is, you know what is coming, you have been given knowledge that the characters couldn't possibly know, and you can help but feel anxious and stressed as the characters get closer and closer to the truth. For fans of Frankenstein there are plenty of little Easter eggs to pick up on, and from my perspective, the retelling is faithful enough to the source materiel while telling it's own story at the same time.

Looking at the characters, they are reasonably typical of the YA genre. Our two main characters are angst ridden teenagers full of emotions and hormones, have a rebellious relationship with parents, and are forced to deal with emotion charged bullies / crushes at high school. It's very Twilight (yeah I read the Twilight books and didn't hate them (except for the last one)). What I think separates these 'broken' teenagers from the protagonists of other YA novels are the unique situations that Rought forces them to confront, and the emotions they have to process afterwards. I couldn't help but feel for these characters and the shitty situations they find themselves in. They want to just have a stereotypical teenage romance, but events conspire against them.

Broken is very much Twilight meets Frankenstein, and I don't mean that in a negative way whatsoever. It is simultaneously a heart-warming and heart-breaking love story that sometimes, but not often, ventures into eye-rolling stereotype territory. I feel like there is plenty in this book for most fantasy readers to appreciate, and that the YA / Twi-hard audience will love it.

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