Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
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.
Ever since I read Hannah Jayne's Truly Madly Deadly (Sourcebooks Fire) early this year, I developed an appetite for YA contemporary thrillers. The main reason why I love this sub genre is because it's devoid of those angsty teen romances and annoying clique drama. Overall I just find this to have more substance versus your usual YA contemporary romance.
That said BROKEN by CJ Lyons packed quite the punch. To summarize, BROKEN is a week in the life of Scarlet Killian, a girl diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Long QT and her mortality has never been as pronounced as it is currently. At any time, Scarlet can just keel over and die so in an attempt for normalcy, she managed to convince her mother, the High School nurse, to allow her to attend school. Once there Scarlet experienced unspeakable bullying from her peers. And as if this wasn't enough, a school project led Scarlet to discover that there's more to her disease than meets the eye and that there's hope for her yet.
BROKEN has a two fold conflict which was a pleasant surprise. First you have the social issue of bullying. Given Scarlet's situation, she's the last person I expect to be terrorized in such a manner ranging from the usual name calling, smear campaign via social media to being set on fire! The next phase is more sinister and downright heartbreaking. I can't divulge lots of details because this plot twist is the heart of BROKEN. Let me just say that Scarlet is a victim in every sense of the word and I'm glad that she managed to find this loophole before she met a tragic end.
I have minor gripes about BROKEN and it's surrounding the resolution. Given that Scarlet discovered something suspicious about her medical treatment, I found it odd and a tad unbelievable that a pair of high school students managed to piece out what's broken about her story. I mean you have a girl who's been surrounded by these experts all her life and nobody figured out the discrepancy? It's either Scarlet's classmate is a genius or her doctors are idiots.
Regardless of this singular gripe, the characters of BROKEN are amazing. Scarlet's friends have their own respective "special needs" and each of their personal story will pinch you heart a bit. I liked that CJ Lyons didn't go overboard with the teen drama and kept the angst to a minimum. Scarlet's mom is a piece of work! Part of me understands her fierce over protectiveness for Scarlet but at the same time I want her to allow Scarlet to live the remaining time of her life how she wants it.
Now Scarlet Killian and BROKEN as a whole is a captivating story. It's hard not to connect with Scarlet because of her situation from the countless ordeal she has to deal with due to her disease, apathetic teens bullying her and ultimately her internalization. There's nothing more crushing than seeing a young person face death with equal amounts of strength and fear and Scarlet's will is as strong as iron and I can't help but admire her will.
I want to live. not just survive. Really Live. And I'm gonna die trying. -Scarlet
BROKEN is such a powerful story not just because of the issues it tackled but how it was written. I'm not surprised that this has been nominated in this year's RT Awards for Book of the Year. CJ Lyons wrote an amazing story about a teen who's woes proved to be larger than the novel itself. BROKEN is not just about a teen trying to live through the day, it's about friendship, hope and surving. And don't be mistaken, BROKEN may appear as this sob story about a dying girl but it has a dark side which will grip you to the end. It's YA with a twist of maleficence.
When we're little kids, before we understand Death. we dutifully obey every rule, listen to safety lectures, look both ways.When we're old enough to understand, we act out. We can't stand the thought of wasting one precious second of life on anything that isn't Important. Real. Vital. We want to create a legacy. here. now. Before Death can outrace us.
CJ: Abby’s great, thanks for asking! She’s totally opposite of Scarlet, fiercely independent and refuses to let her heart condition hold her back from anything she wants. She rides horses, raises Rottweilers, is a straight A student, and a budding fashionista.
You can see for yourself in this video my publisher produced
Abby has never allowed her heart condition to define her life. I think a large part of the credit for that goes to her parents—they were always open and up front with Abby about her Long QT. By the age of three she could explain what Long QT was (including a short summary of the genetics!) to anyone who asked about her MedAlert bracelet.
Since then, she’s grown into a smart, independent young woman who is the first to jump in to defend a friend (or tell them they’re making a mistake), confront a bully, or lead a cause she’s passionate about.
If I sound like a proud aunt, it’s because I am!
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).
Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at