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Broken by A.E. Rought

Oh this is a very lush novel, all atmospheric and eerie and romantic. The cover is stunning, I think, and the story lives up to the expectations it stirred in me.
Emma, her of the blonde tousled hair and wistful gaze, is in mourning for her boyfriend Daniel. He died in a freak accident, involving a balcony and his best mate. Emma can't let go of him, and spends too much time walking the graveyard where she and Daniel hung out. While her memories haunt her she has no grave to focus her grief upon; Daniel's parents donated his body to medical science, and cremated the remains. This lack of physical memorial troubles Emma - her family and friends are worried that she might never move on from the tragedy.

The new boy at school, Alex Franks, could be about to change everything. There's an undeniable connection between him and Emma. Her best friend is thrilled, the other girls are apoplectic with jealousy, and her mum is wary. Alex has a vibe about him, something is slightly off, wrong even. Emma feels it too, but the pull of his touch is impossible to resist. She's reluctant to let go of Daniel, her grief is as safe and familiar as his hoodie she wears to bed every night - even though it hurts she wants to remember. But not only is she intensely drawn to Alex, she also feels compelled to figure out the mystery that lurks behind his gorgeous, familiar eyes.

I was completely hooked on Broken, from start to finish. I liked Emma, and could empathise with her slightly obsessive wanderings round the graveyard. She's never pathetic though; she mourns a terrible loss but forces herself to continue with the everyday stuff that seems so trivial when someone you love has died. She battles her conscience over her attraction to Alex - is it a betrayal of what she had with Daniel or can she have a new relationship? When things start to get very weird indeed she faces it head on, determined to get to the truth no matter how terrifying. And the truth is terrifying. It's seriously scary at times, and just a bit disturbing.

The mixture of horror/romance/supernatural/thriller all wrapped up in a YA novel worked brilliantly for me. It draws its inspiration from Frankenstein, but does something exciting with the themes and has a greater resonance now with the state of medical science. The writing is great and makes the book very addictive. If I still happened to be in my teens (heavens forbid) I would now have a serious thing for messed-up Alex, and would most likely be spending more time in graveyards!

It comes as no surprise to me that Strange Chemistry have published Broken. I haven't read a single book from them that isn't a winner. I love them for selecting such interesting and different authors. They are curating this amazing YA list that delivers exciting, fresh and satisfying stories. Good on 'em!


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