Broken (Uncorrected bound proof)

by Daniel Clay | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 9780007270132 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Rivercassini of London, Greater London United Kingdom on 1/22/2008
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Rivercassini from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Permanently in my permanent collection.

Acquired through Amazon's vine programme.

Journal Entry 2 by Rivercassini from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, February 02, 2008
There are quite a lot of good things about Daniel Clay’s debut novel. It’s nicely written, well-paced and smoothly, if a little obviously, plotted. But the blurb on the back of the book describes it as “utterly original” and that is most certainly isn’t. This has to be the one of the most derivative novels I’ve read in age. Skunk, a young girl, lives with her elder brother Jed and father Archie and, the mother being absent, are cared for by a live-in helper, Juanita. Compare the set up (and even the names) to that in the genuinely utterly original To Kill a Mocking, where Scout lives with her elder brother Jem, father Atticus and, the mother being absent, a live-in maid called Calpurnia. Atticus is a lawyer. So is Archie. Atticus represents a friend of the family who is falsely accused of rape. So does Archie. In To Kill a Mocking Bird, the false accusation is made by a rough and unruly neighbour whose daughter is the alleged victim. In Broken, the false accusation is made by a rough and unruly neighbour whose daughter is the alleged victim. In both books, the false accusations led to a series of events which eventually tear the local community apart. Then there’s Jed and Skunk’s friend Dillon who has no parents and is only around some of time. Could this be Clay’s version of orphaned Dill in To Kill a Mocking Bird, who befriends Jem and Scout when he spends his summers nearby with a great Aunt? In both books, all three children are fascinated by a neighbour who has mental problems – Boo Radley in To Kill a Mocking Bird becomes Broken Buckley in Broken.

Yes, the settings are different, and the stories pan out a little differently. But Broken is so close to To Kill a Mocking Bird that comparison is inevitable, and Broken falls a country mile short of matching Harper Lee’s classic. Clay may be trying to retell Lee’s story of growing up in extraordinary circumstances for the 21st century but his prose has neither the passion nor credibility to match; his novel becomes then little more than a derivative and somewhat pointless tribute. Reading Broken feels a bit like reading the fan fiction that some science fiction series have spawned. You want to enjoy them, but rarely to they match the real thing and the reader is left feeling isolated and disappointed. The best advice I can give is to read To Kill a Mocking Bird instead.

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