First in a trilogy
By A. E. Rought
Available now from Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot)
I've been meaning to read basically all of the Strange Chemistry books, but BROKEN is the first one I got to. A. E. Rought's debut young adult novel is an update of FRANKENSTEIN, with far more romance, fistfights, and high school gossip than the original.
Emma Jane Gentry is still recovering from the death of her boyfriend Daniel. He fell to his death right in front of her, which definitely left an impression. Then Alex Franks transfers to her school. He's got a weird disease and his dad is creepy, but Emma is still drawn to him. He reminds her of Daniel in the strangest ways, but he's also a decent guy in his own right.
The fact that BROKEN is based on FRANKENSTEIN diffuses some of the tension. The dark secret behind Alex's connection to Daniel is pretty easy to deduce. Fortunately, Rought doesn't focus the story too much on Alex's secrets. Instead, Emma's recovery and her romance with Alex drive the story. And it's a good romance. Their relationship builds throughout the story, and they actually talk about making it official. It's very high school, and sweet, but still driven by an intensely physical attraction.
I also liked how much time is spent within the walls of the high school. Emma goes to class, she hangs with friends, she avoids the guy who tries to get her attention in all the wrong ways, and she has homework when she goes home. She also has two parents, both of whom are involved in her life. Her mother isn't afraid to ground her for getting up to standard paranormal romance shenanigans. And when she fractures her hand, it continues to be a problem throughout the story. These things aren't present enough to interrupt the momentum of the story, but it's nice to actually see them in a paranormal.
I enjoyed BROKEN. I'm curious as to how Rought will launch a series from this title, as it stands alone just fine. But I'll definitely read the next book, because BROKEN is a good start. I feel like I haven't read much paranormal fiction lately, so it was nice to start the year off with a fun example of the genre.