Five years ago, Summer Marks was killed in a cult-like ritual that was blamed on her two best friends, Mia and Brynn, and her boyfriend, Owen. All three – only barely teenagers at the time – are branded monsters even though the accusations are never proven, and they still deal with the fallout. None of them are in contact with each other, but as the five year memorial approaches, a new discovery reunites them. The three of them, with help from a couple friends, have to sort through the tangle that was their relationship with Summer. They have to deal with the fantasy world of Lovelorn, pulled from a beloved book, that Summer introduced in their lives.
Imagine being a kid, and being so in love with a place like Narnia that you decide that it must exist, somewhere. You write fanfiction and discuss theories and generally immerse yourself so deep into the story that it’s hard to separate out truth from fiction – especially when Narnia (or in this case, Lovelorn) suddenly appears in front of you. Of course, we’re not talking about a real appearance. This isn’t a fantasy novel. We’re talking about a series of events that appears to be a real appearance, or at least one that three preteen girls choose to believe in. And then one of those girls is dead, dead in a way that mirrors a scene from the fanfic, and suddenly you’re a monster. Notorious. With a target on your back. It’s as my favorite character (Wade) says:
“They turned you into demons. Three average, everyday girls. A little lonely, a little ignored. The boy next door. An old book. They made a movie out of you. It was a witch hunt.”
The premise of Broken Things is really good, and I enjoyed watching these characters try to peel back layers on a mystery that has condemned them to fear, isolation, and permanent stigma. I had to stop myself from skipping ahead to the end to see if my theories were right. I don’t always get along with Oliver’s books, but this one was nice, minus a few too-trope-too-easy moments toward the conclusion. It was the perfect read for a quiet, rainy afternoon.