Here we are the third day of 2013....I am still scratching my head wondering where the holidays or even 2012 went? Oh well, better quite wondering and get doing. So now that we are all sort of back into a routine and swearing off sweets and junk food....how about some books to fill the void? I have the first guest post of 2013 and I am excited for you to meet A.E. Rought the author of the upcoming YA tale Broken a loose retelling of Frankenstein. I personally was blown away by her incredibly detailed writing. I invited Ms. Rought here today to tell you how she was inspired to write a retelling of Frankenstein. First here is a bit more about A.E. Rought:
Funny: A known introvert and mild megalomaniac — handy because writing indulges both. When not writing, A.E. can be found slaving under the cat’s demands, chasing the laundry, or whipping up really good bad food in the kitchen.
Somewhat serious: Self-proclaimed nerd, A.E. Rought has spent most of her early life in libraries and bookstores. It’s no surprise that she turned to writing shortly after creative arts college. She has novels of varying genres, and different pennames, published since 2006.
Serious-er: A student of language arts, A.E. Rought studied creative writing while attending Grand Valley State University with a focus on languages; French, Russian, and English. Now, married and a mother, A.E. writes from the comfort of home.
Here is A.E. Rought to tell you all how she stitched together her own version of Frankenstein:
Why Frankenstein as inspiration for Broken?
Thank you for having me on your blog!
I’ve talked a lot about Broken, the writing of, the music behind, stars I might cast, even a post about the food! Every story starts somewhere, and for Broken it started with a feeling I couldn’t purge no matter what work-in-progress I tried. And believe me, I tried a lot of them! (Yes, sadly I have a lot of story starts to toy with)
Finally, frustrated, I called my beta reader and plot buddy. I told Lexie I needed to write something dark and aching and romantic. We discussed the various stories I had, and had tried to breathe new life into, and decided none of them were going to work. So we started bouncing around ideas—and she is the queen of crazy ideas! Thankfully, sometimes her crazy suggestions send me on the right path. And she did this time, too.
I’d started a rewrite of a different classic and had enjoyed taking what was established and totally twisting it. I decided immediately to stay away from a fairytale retelling, though—there are lots of them on the shelves and more coming. Somehow, I’m not sure anymore exactly how, we hit the idea of Gothic classics. They were perfect for the project, inherently dark already. Then it became choosing which best fit the heartbreakingly romantic feeling I couldn’t shake.
I love The Wolfman, and am a huge werewolf fan, but they prowl the shelves already. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my favorites, but lots of vampires hunt the YA section. Ghosts and ghouls didn’t have the right substance. Then, Frankenstein was suggested.
Suddenly, things started falling into place.
The themes provided the perfect skeleton for me to twist, and still support the changes: new characters and theology, romance and heartbreak. The parts I chose, when stitched together, took on new life and became the perfect receptacle for that dark aching feeling.
So, why did I choose Frankenstein as the inspiration for Broken?
I’m not sure I chose Frankenstein. I think it chose me.
Thanks so much A.E. for being here today and sharing how you crafted Broken!
Are you intrigued, yet? Thanks to the good folks over at Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot (you really need to check out this publisher they have some awesome titles and it is always nice to support a small publisher! Find them on Facebook) I am able to offer you all a chance to win a copy of Broken by A.E. Rought. This is open to all U.S. residents. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. Good luck! Thanks to Ms. Rought for stopping by and being the first guest of many for 2013!
Here is my review:
Broken by A.E. Rought
Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.
A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.
When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.
The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows. Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 8th 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Three and a half stars: A book with wonderful writing that borrows on the famed tale of Frankenstein.
Emma hurries through the dark splashes of shadow stretching across the sidewalk. It is nearly dusk on a crisp October evening. The leering jack o' lanterns on the porches, a reminder of the season, watch her every move as she rushes home after spending the afternoon in the graveyard. It has been four months since her boyfriend, Daniel, accidentally died. Her heart still hurts from missing him, her hand aches to hold his....The next day, she meets Alex, a new boy, and she is unexpectedly drawn to him. Is it because something about his eyes remind her of Daniel or the inexplicable electricity that tingles between them? Alex is quiet and mysterious but kind and nice, and she feels she knows him. He is an enigma. Emma slowly, with Alex's help, puts her feet back onto the path of living, but a terrible secret threatens to destroy everything.......
What I Liked:
- First and foremost, what I loved the most about this book was the writing. Ms. Rought's debut book shows she is an immensely talented author. I absolutely loved her unique way with words and her well defined descriptions. She utilizes smell and touch and sight and blends them into powerful passages that were astounding. I am always a fan of books with creative writing, and this one is a gem. There are books that use basic writing to tell a tale, and then there are books that enthrall you with mesmerizing words and stunning details. This book excelled on the writing aspect, so much so, that I felt like the writing itself was a character all on its own. Time and time again, I was enchanted by the details. For me, it was like watching a movie with awe inspiring cinematography, where the shots of the background are so interesting that they play a pivotal role in the movie. The background details and descriptions are so vivid that they overshadow some of the other aspects.
- I liked that this book borrowed on ideas of Frankenstein, but for the most part it is an original story. It made it a bit more unpredictable.
- I enjoyed Emma's character. She is a young lady reeling from the accidental death of her boyfriend. Her pain is gut wrenching and the reader really feels for her. I liked that Alex slowly teaches her to live again. There are so many emotions in this one and I think Ms. Rought does a great job of capturing them all and conveying them to the reader.
- I have hit a bit of a lucky spell as of late, as I have read several book in a row that are stand alones. That means no horrific cliffhangers, and can I just say, I love reading a book that has a definite conclusion. If you are like me: tired of books with jarring endings pick this one up. It has phenomenal writing and a nice, neat conclusion, that alone is worth reading this book!
And The Not So Much:
- I admit, I picked this one up because I love Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and I couldn't resist a retelling. I have learned, though, not to expect these modern day retellings to mirror their familiar counterparts, so I went in with no expectations that this would be reminiscent of Frankenstein, and indeed this tale borrows on Ms. Shelly's ideas, but is is nothing like the original, and I liked that. I know other readers will be disappointed that this isn't more like the classic story, but for me I liked the fresh ideas and original story. I think that these respins of the classics might be better introduced as books that are inspired by or based loosely upon instead of a retelling that way people aren't expecting a familiar story line.
- I was disappointed that the villain in this one didn't have a larger part. I wanted to get inside his head and learn what motivated him, why he chose to do what he did, how he went about creating his "monster" and what exactly happened with the death and the subsequent resurrection. I was also perplexed by the scene where Emma meets Dr. Franks and his reaction to her. Why did he act that way? It is never explained and it bothered me, was it because he recognized her name from his son's rantings? I think this book needed his POV integrated into the story, perhaps with journal entries?
- This storyline tries to utilize a "surprise" element with the whole Frankenstein monster concept, but it fails because the reader goes into this knowing that it is a retelling so when the big reveal comes it is expected. Trying to keep it in the dark fails. Maybe this is why we didn't get more insight on Dr. Franks as the author was hoping to achieve the big twist but it just doesn't work. I think alleviating the surprise and integrating the villain's POV would vault this up from a good read to a great one.
- While I adored the writing, I found myself a bit bored by the repetitiveness of the plot. I liked the depth of emotions and the descriptions so I was entertained, but there was just too much repeating of Emma going to school, getting coffee, meeting her friend and arguing with her mother. I started to feel like been there done that.....
Broken is a very loose Frankenstein retelling. If you go into this expecting a mirror of the classic, you will likely be disappointed. I personally liked that it borrowed on ideas but blossomed into its own story. The big selling point for me for this book is Ms. Rought's mad writing skills. It is isn't often that I am blown away by stunning metaphors and rich descriptions, but this book has both and more. If you are a fan of detailed and creative writing you should definitely check this out. Not having a cliffhanger is another great reason to read this. I am certainly now a fan of Ms. Rought's writing, and despite this book having some flaws, I will gladly pick up another one of her books in the future so I can once again experience her unique writing.
"With Daniel, it was so much more. He wasn't just in my heart, he was my heart."
"It's such a lovely promise. Promises are like hearts, easily broken."
"Glittering frost coats the world, sharpens grass and leaves to fragile glass-like weapons."
"Talking drags the jagged ugly truth out and tosses it into view of anyone who cares to listen."
"No more leering pumpkins seeing their echo in me. Autumn is over. Novembers are fickle, but the constant chill in the air tells me the dying is done. Now comes the frigid death of a Michigan winter, bitter winds, suffocating snow."
"Do I tell him he isn't a dream for me, but a memory I've almost forgotten?"
"The snow softens the world's edges, buries its sins under a powdery blanket. Too bad it can't work the same with life."
A big thanks to Strange Chemistry Publishing for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for my review.