Thursday, May 05, 2011

Review: Broken Soup

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

Goodreads description:

Someone shoves a photo negative into Rowan's hands. She is distracted but, frankly, she has larger problems to worry about. Her brother is dead. Her father has left. Her mother won't get out of bed. She has to take care of her younger sister. And keep it all together . . . But Rowan is curious about the mysterious boy and the negative. Who is he? Why did he give it to her? The mystery only deepens when the photo is developed and the inconceivable appears.
Everything is about to change for Rowan. . . . Finally, something positive is in her life.

First sentence: It wasn't mine.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This book had a lot of potential. The idea with the photo is intriguing, and Rowan's whole situation sounded interesting to read about. The plot is what kept me turning the pages - I loved the plot twists and the many ideas - but I had quite a few problems with the rest of Broken Soup.

I think my main problem was that the message got lost in the many aspects of the plot. I don't mean that a book shouldn't have many storylines, but they should support each other to make a whole and create a message to convey to the reader. The different storylines in Broken Soup - Jack's death, Rowan's morhter's depression, her friendship with Bee, her romance with Harper, her role as the responsible one in the family - all seemed to be conveying different messages that had nothing to do with each other. Maybe that would have worked if the book were longer and the storylines were elaborated on more, but like this it just left me confused about what Jenny Valentine wanted to say with this book.

The writing isn't great, but not terrible, either. There was nothing all that noteworthy about it. At parts it sounds like the author wants to sounds poetic and deep, but that didn't fit to the rest of the style and Rowan's voice and seemed contrived.

The characters are okay. Rowan's character is pretty good, and I liked reading how the situation in her family affected her. For some reason, though, I never really connected with her, and for me, if I can't relate to the main character, that takes a lot from a novel. Some of the secondary characters are better: I loved Harper - how he helps Rowan is really cute. Jack is a good character, too; easy to imagine. Bee's characterization is lacking, though. Rowan always tells us she's so special, etc. but the reader is never really shown what's so great about her. She seemed pretty average to me. The parents didn't really seem like characters, more like plot devices, but I guess I can't really criticize that - they're never around, and that was the point of that storyline.

I don't usually comment on the cover of a book if I don't like it, but on this one I have to. Not only is it ugly (in my opinion), it also doesn't fit the story whatsoever. It looks like something someone doodled during class without a care in the world, which is the opposite of Rowan's situation. It doesn't show the reader anything about the seriousness of this book.

All in all, this book was pretty disappointing. There were a lot of good ideas in there, but the execution is clumsy. The writing and the characters are only okay, and Broken Soup fails to convey a message with too - it seemed like the author wanted to pull the novel in too many directions without elaborating on the different storylines. Most of the other reviews I've read for this one, though, are positive, so maybe you'd enjoy it more than I did.


  1. Hmm. I haven't heard of this one, but it does sound like a good premise.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  2. This is a superb book. After reading the outstanding 'Ant Colony' I was interested to read more from this author and it doesn't disappoint.
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  3. I love this book! Finding Violet Park, her first novel, is good too, but not as good as Broken Soup. Great review!

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