Review/Interview: Broken – C.J. Lyons

Review/Interview: Broken – C.J. LyonsBroken by CJ Lyons
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Published: November 5th 2013
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three-stars

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page.

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Broken is the story of 15 year old Scarlet Killian. Ever since Scarlet can remember she has been sick. She hasn’t been able to live a normal life like kids her age because she has Long QT and her heart can decide to kill her at any moment. Tired of being an outsider, different, Scarlet convinces her father and mother to let her prove herself and go to a normal high school for at least a week. Completely out of her element Scarlet is faced with bullying, friendships and crushes right off the bat. But she is also faced with the fact that her life may not be exactly what it seems and the further she digs the further she finds herself in possible serious trouble.

The thing about Broken is that I broke the cardinal rule of reading and I had an idea in my head as to what to expect. When I read the description I thought the book would go one way and when it went another it threw me off. But even thrown off I found comfort in a couple of things I didn’t expect, like the characters. Truthfully I loved the character of Scarlet. I normally get annoyed when the main character is as naive as Scarlet was, but for Broken it worked. I understood her naivety completely and it actually aids the story along. Here you have this girl that has been around sick kids and adults her whole life. She had no idea what she was in for when she entered high school. She knew what she saw on TV, but real life is totally different from TV and she learned that first hand. I loved seeing her stand up for herself and I loved seeing when she was afraid to. The friendships she made were kind of instant, but I understood that too based off the people she connected with as they were all just looking for a place in life. She was by far my favorite part of this book which helped as she was the focus.

I also enjoyed the character of Tony. He was just a sweet boy and exactly the kind of person Scarlet needed in her life. He was a little know it all like at times which was slightly annoying, but he was a smart kid so I kind of accepted it as a personality trait. But besides that, from his first meeting with Scarlet to his meeting with Scarlet’s mother, to his place in Scarlet’s life, I really just liked Tony in general. Like I said, he was smart, but he was sensitive too. And he didn’t shy away from awkward situations or doing the right thing even if it was the hard thing.

Even going into this book with a different idea in my head than the finished product Broken is a definitely a story of self-discovery, growing up and taking control of your own life. A true contemporary with a side of mystery thrown in and a hint of personal touch since the disease is something that is close to the author’s real life. It is a fast read that will definitely keep readers trying to figure out what is going on and with some very likable characters. I say give it a shot and go in with no expectations and see what you come out with.

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Interview:
1) A pediatric ER doctor to a writer is a big career change. What made you make the jump?
CJ: Actually I was a storyteller and writer long before I even dreamed of becoming a doctor. I wrote my first novel in high school and two more SF/F novels in med school. But I never seriously considered writing as a career until I made my first sale to a publisher. Then when I realized I had a chance to make a new dream come true, I took the leap of faith and left medicine to write full time. It was scary (terrifying, actually!) but so far, so good!

2) Broken is about a 15 year old girl with Long QT, a disease that hit close to home for you as your niece has it. How hard was it to write a book under those circumstances? Did you put personal experience aside or add it into the story?
CJ: It wasn’t hard to write—but it was very difficult to wait and see if my niece approved, lol! (She did, with the caveat that I tell everyone that she is nothing like Scarlet. Abby is almost the opposite, fiercely independent and refuses to let her heart condition hold her back from anything she wants.)

I included as much personal experience as possible—the characters and who they are always come first, but if I can infuse them with a little extra dose of reality, I don’t mind borrowing from my own life.

3) Broken is your first Young Adult(YA) novel. Did you find it different to write for a younger target audience? Was it easier or harder?
CJ: I can actually go a lot darker and edgier with the YA books—and be so much more emotionally honest than in my adult novels. Grownups usually read more for straight entertainment and escapism while kids also enjoy the vicarious thrills of facing the worst possible moment and surviving.

4) Sticking with the YA theme, do you plan to write anymore YA books in the future or was Broken a one time only plan?
CJ: I loved writing BROKEN so much that I’ve already written a second YA—this one much darker and aimed at a slightly older age range since it deals with the more mature theme of sexual coercion. Our working title is DAMAGED (that might change) and it’s due out next year.

5) And now a little book curiosity: What are you currently reading? What is on your to be read list” And what is your current favorite book?
CJ: I usually read several books at once, often a few nonfiction research books mixed with fiction. Right now I’m re-reading The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy; I just finished Endless, the fourth book in the Embrace series; and Straightling, a memoir recounting a girl’s time in a juvenile treatment facility.

6) Finally, since my blog also has a fashion aspect, I must ask: What is the one item in your closet that you couldn’t live without?
CJ: My Archipedia ankle boots—love, love, love them! Sexy yet comfortable and they go with anything—I’ve walked miles and miles in them and they’re as comfy as sneakers!

About CJ Lyons

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

Winner of the International Thriller Writers coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).

 

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  1. I’m still waiting to hear from NG if I’m approved for this one, but I’ll keep in mind that I shouldn’t have any ideas of my own before getting into it. I have a bad habit of doing that as well – and then I yell at the book as if somehow I can change its mind so it follows what I want to happen. It never works out… 😉

    And CJ’s next book sounds like another one I’d like to read – even if it is a bit darker.

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