Note: I received an e-galley for free from the publisher for review via Netgalley.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the e-galley of Breaking, by Danielle Rollins! It was billed as: "prep school gets a twist of supernatural suspense in this YA thriller." I've been binge watching Gossip Girl (for the very first time, can you believe that?), so this sounded right up my alley with my recent tastes. Read the summary and my review below!
Monsters lurk where you least expect…
Charlotte has always felt ordinary compared to her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Not enigmatic and daring like Ariel or beautiful and brilliant like Devon, Charlotte has never quite met the standards of the school—or those of her demanding mother. But with Ariel and Devon by her side, none of that mattered. They became the family she never had.
Until the unthinkable happens—Ariel commits suicide. And less than a month later, so does Devon.
Everyone accepts the suicides as tragic coincidences, but Charlotte refuses to believe that. And when she finds mysterious clues left behind by Ariel, Charlotte is thrust down a path that leads to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep. There’s a reason Weston students are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth…
One of the things that I really enjoyed about the book was the writing. It flowed very nicely and the tone of the first-person point of view was always consistent. Even if I didn't sympathize with the protagonist at times, at least I understood her. The thing I hate the most about first-person point of views are awkward, choppy trains of thought. In this regard, I think Rollins did a great job.
Another thing I appreciated was the diversity of the prep school. Sure, it was really only diverse based on ethnicity, but that's a start. There were some clever lines that touched on racial stereotypes, and then defied them in the same breath.
The above two points are the reason why Breaking has two stars from me. Because, to be honest, the story fell completely flat. The supernatural elements that it was advertised to have were flimsy. I went through the entire book without realizing that there was supposed to be anything supernatural at all; I had forgotten the description from Netgalley's website. It would have been the exact same book without the fantastical twist at the end of the book.
Another thing that I took issue with was how the protagonist, Charlotte, reacted to her best friends' apparent suicides. She rationalized them, even glorified them, at points throughout the book. The "supernatural element" oversimplified their apparent suicides as well.
This goes for the standards by which Weston Prep evaluates their students as well. Extraordinary beauty, mental brilliance, physical prowess. The students are frustratingly one-dimensional. The romantic subplot between Charlotte and Jack was intriguing, but it took up more of the book than necessary, especially as things start to really escalate.
As you can see, I appreciated Rollins' writing. I think the idea had potential. But the way it was executed was flat and left a lot to be desired. It seems like Breaking is the first book in a series, but I doubt I'll be picking up the second book. However, I will definitely be checking out other works by Rollins!
I rate Breaking 2/5 stars.