Published by HarperCollins on October 2, 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.
Three best friends, very different girls with not much in common. Mia – the ballerina, the quiet, gentle girl with a secret crush. Brynn, the tough, boorish loudmouth. And Summer – the force to be reckoned with, the planet the others orbited. The three were thick as thieves, never could be seen without each other – and a strange book from the 1960s. The Way Into Lovelorn, the story of three teenagers who stumble into a secret world of fantasy and magic.
Which is why it is so odd that one day, Summer goes missing and is later found with her head bludgeoned in by a rock. Brynn, Mia, and Summer’s ex – Owen – are blamed, which seems to make sense given that they were connected to Summer so closely. The problem? They didn’t do it.
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
Maybe I’ve just been reading too many thrillers lately? This plot just felt so two-dimensional and blah to me compared to The Last Time I Lied. The characters, on the other hand, were where this really shines – we get to know them quite well, and they have very distinct voices – even Summer, who we never actually meet and know only through memories. The girls are obsessed with The Way Into Lovelorn and spend a lot of their time pretending to be in that universe – writing a fanfiction sequel to the book that never truly got an ending. One day, Mia and Brynn sort of grow out of Lovelorn – after all, it’s a story and they’re about to be in high school. But Summer? Lovelorn is real to Summer. And she’s not ready to let it go. Along with Mia, Brynn and Owen, we meet Abby – Mia’s best friend once Brynn leaves town once and for all – and Wade, Brynn’s mother’s cousin. Together, they get to the bottom of who murdered Summer – and why.
Unfortunately, the answer to that question – the central driving force of the entire plot – is kind of weak at best. Having completed the book, I am still not 100% sure why Summer was murdered – and we never really figure that out. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I didn’t care a whole hell of a lot by the end why Summer was dead, I was more concerned with Brynn and Mia and Owen – with Mia and Owen making their love connection, with Brynn getting out of the nasty habit of avoidance she’s spiraled into. The plot was no longer a main concern – rather, it was the B storylines that had my heart.
There is a huge trigger warning here, also – for animal abuse. I am not usually very triggered by most things – it takes a lot to get me to feel grossed out or disgusted by a book. But there is a very graphic description of the murder of a cat near the end of this book that made me sick to my stomach, and if I’d been at home when I read it I’d have tossed the book aside to go hug my own babies. If you’re squeamish about animals, it’s probably in your best interest to avoid this one all together, or at least skip over that one chapter. There is a nice LGBT representation here, as well as fat positivism, but it felt like they missed the mark even if I can’t put a finger on why or how.
The Bottom Line
I once attended a Counting Crows concert, and Adam Duritz described one of his songs as “incandescently mediocre.” It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. It just was. That’s how I would describe Broken Things as well – it’s not a bad book, but it’s not exceptionally good either. It would have gotten another half star, but that cat stuff just bothered the hell out of me, so maybe I am biased. It might also be that I read this, as I mentioned, on the heels of The Last Time I Lied – another book about close female teen friendship, with one girl being the ringleader who is a little more twisted than you might think at first – I’d recommend that book way before I recommended this one: both because the storyline’s twists are better, and because … you know, no cat murder.
Here is a picture of my cats alive and well to offset the sad:
Have you got this book on your TBR? Did you get your hands on an ARC yet? What did you think? Talk to me in the comments! 🙂