Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blog Tour: Broken by CJ Lyons - Interview and Review

                                
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Broken by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author C.J. Lyon, published by Sourcebooks Fire.  My stop today features an interview with C.J. Lyons and a review of Broken.  Thanks so much for stopping by.  Be sure and check out her website where you can find all kinds of additional information including a behind the scenes interview with C.J. and the teen who inspired Broken, as well as access to the first several chapters of the book.  

Broken
by C.J. Lyons
Published:  November 5, 2013
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.
See what others are saying about BROKEN:
BROKEN is a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing until the very last page! CJ Lyons’ new novel is already receiving rave reviews:

·        “[A] suspenseful thriller laced with medical intrigue and coming-of-age triumph.”Booklist 

·        “A chilling medical suspense story—Lyons’ specialty—expertly entwines with teen-oriented family drama and the eye-rolling social hierarchy that is high school. . .”—RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ Stars, Top Pick!

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with C.J. Lyons
-I'd like to welcome CJ Lyons, author of Broken today.  Thanks so much for being here.  I think it is amazing that you are a pediatric ER doctor turned “Award-winning, critically-acclaimed New York Times and USA today bestselling author.”  When did you discover your passion for writing? 
CJ: I’ve been a storyteller all my life and have always used stories to makes sense of the world around me—it’s my coping mechanism for dealing with chaos. But I never really thought of writing as a career until after I sold my second novel--that’s second novel sold. I’d written my first novel in high school followed by two SF/F novels in medical school. I think I had five or six full novels and several half-started ones finished by the time I sold my first book. 
-Can you give us a little bit of the back-story behind your inspiration for Broken?
CJ: Scarlet’s character is loosely based on my own experiences as a pediatrician. I diagnosed my niece, Abby, with the same congenital heart condition, Long QT, when Abby was only twenty minutes old and BROKEN is dedicated to her.
Watching my niece refuse to allow her disease to define her was such a contrast to some other patients’ parents who would insist on making their child’s disease (most not life-threatening) the center of the child’s world that I couldn’t help but wonder what would it be like to grow up being treated as a “patient” all your life, or worse as the “dying girl,” rather than ever having the chance to figure out who you really were, dying or not.
What better disease to give a character like that than something rare and hard to diagnose and treat like Long QT? Of course, Scarlet is nothing at all like my niece (the best adjective to describe my niece would be “fierce” whereas Scarlet is very na├»ve and used to being controlled by the adults in her life) but by having Scarlet start the story as someone unsure of who she really is as a person, it makes her struggle and transformation as she faces the truth behind her illness all the more powerful.
After all, it’s easy for someone strong to stand up to bullies or uncertainty or injustice…but how does a kid who has lived all her life in a hospital, basically just waiting to die, learn how to be a hero and find her destiny?
- Is there anything in Broken that you hope readers take away after reading, or something you want to point out you don’t want readers to miss?  
CJ: The theme of BROKEN is taking control of your life. The main character, Scarlet, is so very different than my usual tough, capable strong female leads from my adult thrillers. It was really cool to tap into memories of my own adolescent insecurities and watch Scarlet grow from a vulnerable, naive, sheltered girl to someone with the courage to step up and challenge everything in her life.
-What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?  
CJ: I’ve had two hard landings in helicopters—they don’t call them crashes when you walk away…oh, and I’ve been face to face with a serial killer.
-Did you find it more challenging to write a Teen/Young Adult novel in comparison to your other novels?   
CJ: I’ve always loved reading YA and everyone kept telling me that as a pediatrician, I should write it. But honestly, I never found a story that I thought was worthy of my kids—my patients—until BROKEN. Writing for kids is tons tougher than writing for adults. Most grownups read for entertainment, but kids read for so much more. They want to vicariously experience the world and the choices they’ll be expected to make as adults as well as learn who they are and how they can fit into that larger universe once they’re the ones in charge.
Funny thing is, once I began BROKEN and found my YA voice (very different than my adult thrillers’ narrative voice), I realized I could be much more emotionally honest than with my adult work—which also meant I could tell edgier stories. After finishing BROKEN, I now have ideas for more YA thrillers and can’t wait to write them!
- I know you’ve written quite a few books.  Which character in your books has been your favorite to write, and what character has been your most challenging? 
CJ: The same character is the answer to both questions and that’s my most popular character, Lucy Guardino. She’s a Pittsburgh soccer mom who also happens to be a kickass FBI agent, constantly struggling with the tug of war between work and family. After all, when your job is to save kids’ lives, where do you draw the line and say no to work? Yet, Lucy is devoted to her family and constantly striving to do what’s best for them. 
I love that she’s not like most FBI characters—Lucy isn’t driven by demons or stalked by serial killers, instead she’s a normal mom who loves her job and loves her time at home with her family even more. That makes the challenges she faces more multi-dimensional. It’s not just about catching the bad guys but also making sure she does it in an honorable way, setting a good example for her daughter, and that she keeps herself safe so she can make it home again.
-What’s next for you writing wise that you can share with us?
CJ: I just turned in my second YA Thriller and this one was so hard to write! It deals with two kids, Jesse and Miranda, being black mailed by a cyber-predator using capping (screen capture images) and how they find the courage to stand up to him (with the help of their parents). They go through hell and some of the things that happen to them were so painful to write that I was weeping as I typed—but then I was crying again when I wrote the ending as they rose above it all and triumphed.
I thought it would be a stand alone, but after I finished it (the working title is DAMAGED, but I’m not sure if we’ll be keeping it) I realized there aren’t many books out there that tell you the rest of the story, the price to be paid for defeating the bad guys, so I’d love to tackle another book with Jesse and Miranda and show how their courage, strength, and relationship continue to evolve.
About CJ Lyons:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart. 
Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).
Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net
My Thoughts about Broken:  When I first heard about Broken and read the synopsis, I was intrigued because it was based on the author's own experience as a physician, as well as being based on a condition called Long QT, which she had diagnosed in her own niece.  Those two things combined with the fact that the book is labeled a YA thriller quickly captured my attention.  I was also a bit leery because I was afraid it might be a tearjerker because of the gravity of the heart condition that the main character had.  Let me just say I was surprised on all accounts.  While the disease is based on the condition CJ Lyons diagnosed in her niece, she has also noted that Scarlet, the main character, is nothing like her niece.  With that in mind and knowing that this was a fictional story, I started the book anxious to satisfy my growing curiosity.

Scarlet's story is one that is heartbreaking and tragic, but it's not a tearjerker type story by any means, which for me was wonderful because I don't like those type of stories.  They tend wipe me out and give me an "emotional hangover" that can last for days, so I can only take them in small doses.  Scarlet is 15 years old, has a diagnosis of Long QT, a life-threatening heart condition, has spent the majority of her life in and out of hospitals, and is now for the first time in her life going to school...high school.... starting 3 weeks late.  This fact alone makes her the center of attention, and on top of that she has to carry a defibrillator everywhere she goes in a rolling backpack.  What was more heartbreaking to me than the actual condition Scarlet suffered from and the effects thereof, was the way that she was bullied and picked on by some of the kids at school.  It was absolutely awful.  I know kids can be mean, but these kids, one in particular, were just plain evil.  Then there were some other kids that were in her peer mentoring group, and one really sweet guy in particular who was in Scarlet's class, that were really awesome.  Despite their own issues, they had her back and were really good friends to her.  Her mother, who is actually her stepmother because Scarlet's mother died shortly after her birth, is the school nurse.  Scarlet's dad travels most of the week and is only home on the weekends, so her stepmom has been the one to always take care of her.  I actually didn't care for her at all and found her to be demanding and overbearing, but she does seem to have Scarlet's best interest at heart, or does she?

Despite the bullying and the bad experiences, Scarlet does have some good times also.  She's never had friends before, so this is new to her, and she finds she really likes it.  She also experiences her first crush and what it feels like to have a guy interested in you, and she learns what it feels like to put your friends needs before your own.  As the situation escalates and things get more threatening for Scarlet both with her health and with the bullying, a class project she is working on with her friend and one of the guys she is crushing on, Tony, simultaneously brings to light some very disturbing information.  Scarlet is in more danger than she realizes, and she isn't the only one.  Now it's up to her and her friends to expose and stop this dangerous and potentially life-threatening conspiracy they've discovered.  They race against time and a horde of other obstacles to do just that, but will it be too little to late?

I enjoyed Broken.  It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did, I liked it.  Scarlet was a bit naive, but given her situation, that was understandable.  There are some really important social issues that many teens face that are brought to light in this book, in addition to the bullying, and incorporating them into the novel was an excellent way to bring awareness to them.  There is the hint of romance, as well as the mystery and conspiracy that is unveiled, which adds the thriller component to the story.  I also was glad to see that the author included what happened with Scarlet and her family in the aftermath of everything that happens, giving you a glimpse into the future and what occurs after the climax, which I enjoyed and thought was a great way to end the book.
3.5 hearts

4 comments:

  1. I have heard some pretty good things about this one. A little nervous that it took you a while to get into it but I think I still want to try it.

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  2. Face to face with a serial killer? And 'hard landings' in a helicopter? Sounds scary!
    This book sounds quite good. This is the first review I think I've seen but I like the idea of it all.

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  3. This sounds so different than what I thought it would be about. I like the sounds of it, and you definitely have caught my attention. Great review.

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  4. Amazing. You've been face to face with a real serial killer, and you're able to smile. I would love to read Broken.

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