Broken by Elizabeth Pulford

When I first read about Elizabeth Pulford’s new book, Broken,  I thought it was an intriguing idea: the story of a girl trapped in a coma, interspersed with comic-style panels.  After some initial confusion about what was happening, I became wrapped up in the three strands of the story and got drawn in to Zara’s mind.

Critically injured in a motorbike accident, Zara Wilson lies in a coma. She is caught between many worlds: the world of her hospital room and anxious family, and that of her memories and a dream-like fantasy where she searches for her brother Jem. Jem proves elusive but Zara s adventures in her subconscious unlock dark secrets of a troubled childhood. Zara must face up to her past in order to accept her future.

Broken is unlike anything I’ve read before.  It’s a mystery, a family drama, and a touch of fantasy woven together to make a dark, slightly unsettling story.  There are three strands of the story that Elizabeth weaves together: the hospital room where Zara’s physical body is lying, Zara’s memories of her family and the thing that happened to her when she was seven, and Zara’s search for her brother inside his favourite comic.  This sounds slightly confusing (and it is to start with) but once you get used to the story jumping between these strands you get caught up in it.  Angus Gomes has created the comic-style illustrations that are sprinkled throughout the book.  These illustrations help to tell the part of the story that is set in Zara’s brother’s comic.  Zara enters this comic world to try and find her brother, and she meets the heroes and villains of the comic who both help and hinder her search.  It’s while she is trapped in her subconscious that Zara is able to come to terms with what happened to her when she was seven and reveal the truth of what has happened to her brother.  

If you’re looking for a Young Adult novel that stands out from the crowd then try Broken by Elizabeth Pulford.

4 out of 5 stars

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Filed under authors, books, mystery, New Zealand, young adult, young adult fiction

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