Broken Things follows two teenagers, Mia and Brynn, who have been ostracized from their community as most think they are responsible for the brutal murder of their friend, Summer. Though they were never officially convicted, the stigma still lingers five years later and suspicion has never truly moved away from them since their friend was murdered in a fashion similar to one described in a fanfiction the girls co-wrote. The plot of the novel seems as though it may take inspiration from the Slenderman stabbings that happened about six years ago, however in this instance the mystery of the true perpetrator has still gone unsolved.
Mia and Brynn have both handled their social pariah status in different ways, with Mia living at home while her mother devolves into a hoarding obsession, and Brynn bouncing from rehab to rehab. When they both end up back in town on the five year anniversary of Summer's death, they decide that maybe there's more to the case that meets the eye, and decide to see if they can find the killer after all of these years by teaming up with Mia's friend Abby (a famous beauty Youtuber), Brynn's quirky cousin Wade (who has been running a conspiracy theory blog about the murders for years) and Summer's ex-boyfriend who was also originally under suspicion.
Through the course of the "investigation" the gang conducts, it becomes clear that Summer has been martyred in death and was not the wonderful friend so many remember her to be- she could be cruel, manipulative, and vicious, but was also the victim of abuse and unthinkable circumstances as well. Oliver did a good job creating Summer as a very polarizing character who straddled the line of likeable/unlikeable, as did most of the other characters. I appreciate the dimension and nuance with which the characters were written, and their motives and apprehension created an unsettling and bleak atmosphere that was the perfect setting for the mystery.
Though I read quite a few YA thrillers and usually find myself able to guess the culprit, the twist in this story really took me by surprise. To be completely honest I'm not sure if it was 100% believable but it was different and reflecting back on the story, there clues were there, if subtle.
Overall: Broken Things is my favorite Lauren Oliver book to date and is a solid thriller.
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