Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken Things is a gripping YA thriller about friendship and how things are more complicated than they seem. Anyone on the internet can read about how Mia and Brynn murdered their best friend Summer in the woods, in a way similar to the fan fiction the three of them wrote as a sequel to the fantasy novel The Way into Lovelorn that the author left unfinished. The thing is, Mia and Brynn didn’t do it. Five years later, they’re no longer friends and they’re not doing well. A chance discovery leads them back into the mystery and soon they must confront the past whilst looking for the truth not only of what happened to Summer, but about their friendship with her.

It is a clever, moving young adult novel that combines the tension of the truth about Summer’s murder with exploration of the characters of Mia, Brynn, and Summer. Their obsession with Lovelorn – particularly Summer’s – is shown as a way of coping with their lives; the world of fandom is not demonised, but rather shown in different lights, and the focus is really on the real world, rather than the fictional one. Particularly fascinating is Brynn, who fakes a drink and drug problem because rehab is the only place she feels safe, away from the people accusing her of murder and away from the truth of her feelings for Summer. Broken Things has a classic wrongly-accused-and-must-find-the-real-killer narrative, combined with engaging characters dealing with real problems.

In some ways, Broken Things is about looking beyond what you can read on the internet. The initial story of the murder sounds a lot like something you might read on Buzzfeed or Tumblr as an unexplained mystery, and then the novel goes on to expose the impact of that happening to innocent people. It is the kind of novel that you can’t put down because you need to know what actually happened, but also need to know if the characters can move on.

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