Zara has one immediate and urgent goal, and it is to find her brother, Jem. She faces a few complications, though, not the least of which is searching for him in her subconscious while she is in a coma.

Zara’s coma has pulled her into the world of Jem’s favorite comic-book hero. But no matter how quickly Zara literally draws her own escape, she is taunted deeper into the fantastical darkness by the comic’s villain, Morven. All the while she is...

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Zara has one immediate and urgent goal, and it is to find her brother, Jem. She faces a few complications, though, not the least of which is searching for him in her subconscious while she is in a coma.

Zara’s coma has pulled her into the world of Jem’s favorite comic-book hero. But no matter how quickly Zara literally draws her own escape, she is taunted deeper into the fantastical darkness by the comic’s villain, Morven. All the while she is caught between the present with visits from friends and family in the hospital and the past by flashbacks of a traumatic event long ago forgotten.

The search for her brother may help Zara see the light, but in order to find him, she must face her innermost secrets first. In a multi-layered tale that intertwines comic-book/graphic novel elements with first-person narration, Elizabeth Pulford explores the dimensions of hope, love, loyalty, denial, and truth.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A superbly crafted and complex novel that will hold young readers' rapt attention from first page to last, "Broken" is a very highly recommended addition to school and community library collections for children ages 7 and up.
-Midwest Book Review
VOYA - Shana Morales
Following a devastating crash that has left her comatose, Zara finds herself adrift in her own head. While her family and friends visit her bedside, begging and pleading for her to return to them, Zara is forced to confront painful childhood memories. Kidnapped at the age seven, Zara's subconscious plays out a mixture of memories and comic book fantasy as a way to confront her past and come to terms with what is happening in the present. In recent years, the books If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Dutton, 2009/VOYA February 2009) and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall (HarperCollins, 2010/VOYA April 2010) have tackled the similar premise of a story unfolding from the mind of an unconscious narrator. In both cases, the story played off with heavy emotion and overall success. Broken does not. The secondary story, of Zara mentally revisiting her kidnapping in comic book form, is an incredibly interesting concept. If the book had been entirely in graphic novel form rather than panels sprinkled throughout, it would stand out. This emotional and disturbing story reads younger than the content would suggest. Purchase this title only if you are seeking additional hi-lo purchases for your teen collection. Reviewer: Shana Morales
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—After a tragic motorcycle crash, 18-year-old Jem is killed and his 15-year-old sister, Zara, is left in a coma. While comatose, artist Zara is aware of what her devastated parents and others are saying. In her suspended state, she is able to enter the world of Jem's favorite comic book to search for him. Once there, she realizes that she can control what happens by using a pencil and eraser to change locations and escape trouble, but still she cannot find Jem. As she searches for him, her memories flash back to when she was kidnapped at age seven by a deranged man. She was not physically harmed. Eventually she managed to break free and made subsequent visits to a psychologist. Nonetheless, the experience haunts Zara's present. Despite an attempt to keep all the plotlines straight by using different fonts and inserting several comic-book panels throughout, the story is more confusing than satisfying. Frequent choppiness in the writing plus limited character and plot development do not help. Students looking for a more effective blend of comics and prose should try Cecil Castellucci's The Year of the Beasts (Roaring Brook, 2012) and Swati Avasthi's Chasing Shadows (Knopf, 2013) instead.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO
Kirkus Reviews
A novel with graphic elements chronicles a girl's mental and emotional journeys as she works through a childhood trauma while in a coma. Fifteen-year old Zara is in a coma as a result of the motorcycle accident that took the life of her brother, Jem. The first-person narration shifts between comatose Zara, as she hears and mentally responds to the people in her hospital room, and her adventures in the world of her brother's favorite comic book, Hoodman. Strangely, Zara does not appear to know that she is in a coma, despite her immobility and blindness and the fact that no one responds to her. Much of the action within the comic-book world feels similarly disconnected as, Harold-like, Zara draws herself in and out of various situations, searching for Jem and evading the comic's villain, Morven. Morven's depiction, distressingly, borrows from stereotypical tropes of the Other, with dark skin and a hooked nose, a stark contrast to the blonde, fair-skinned protagonist. As Zara's back story unfolds, readers learn that in order to come out of her coma, she must confront the demons from her childhood--a fictively tidy solution that feels both illogical and contrived, given the coma's cause. In the end, this story attempts to tackle serious issues but fails to grasp the gravity of its subject matter. Disappointing. (Graphic hybrid fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762450794
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 13 years
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Pulford is a writer and three-time finalist for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. Her previous books include Castlecliff & the Fossil Princess, Blackthorn's Betrayal, and Tussock. She lives in Waikouaiti, New Zealand, with her husband.

Angus Gomes is an illustrator who lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Elizabeth Pulford¿s novel, Broken, begins with Zara Wilson¿s tho

    Elizabeth Pulford’s novel, Broken, begins with Zara Wilson’s thoughts as she lies motionless in a coma in the hospital after a tragic motorbike accident. Even though Zara is in a coma, she is still alive; which is better than the outcome for her brother Jem as a result of the accident.

    Ms. Pulford dives right into a descriptive narrative using comatose Zara Wilson as her voice to depict what it might be like to be in a coma: “My head is full of bubbles. Strange floating words, bits of conversations, bits of people. Some I know. Some I don’t...” These are the random thoughts floating through Zara’s mind. While Pulford doesn’t specifically spell out what happened, the reader eventually pieces together a motorbike accident that occurs after Jem, Zara Wilson’s brother, caves to Zara’s relentless pleas to go for a ride along the beach—neither knowing a destiny that would change both their lives forever.

    As Pulford develops her narrative, she shares deeper dynamics to Zara’s personality. The description assigned to Zara likens her to the girl next door. Conversely, her best friend Trace sounds Goth-like. No matter, she is Zara’s confidant and loyal friend who visits the hospital often. Zara is a complex child and there is no question she has an undying and unrequited hero worship toward her brother Jem. Even though family members and friends are encouraged to talk to Zara and utter words of encouragement in hopes of her awakening, Zara is deep within the bowels of her own subconscious fighting to surface. Jem had an immense affinity for comic books and was drawn to one series in particular, one with a villainous character. Zara is a gifted artist and while in her coma, as she struggles to surface, she imagines she is trapped inside the comic book series. She takes to her sketching to create and draw situations to place her one step closer to finding her brother Jem as she wanders the halls and recesses of her mind in search of him. She is convinced he has been taken by the comic book villain and only she will be able to find and rescue him. What she doesn’t realize in her search is that she seeks to find her own truth and face it—a truth of an egregious assault that happened to her many years before.

    This story is complex with its added subplots working throughout. However, I give Ms. Pulford great props for knowing her characters and exercising beautiful patience as she guides the reader through the complexities. She has a carefully crafted step-by-step narrative that she spoon feeds the reader and orchestrates understandable conclusions to how all events unfold. This is a story that easily entices the reader to continue turning its pages. It was intriguing to listen to Ms. Pulford’s voice as she spelled out the wonder of what it must be like to be in a coma; yet hear life going on about you. At the same time, however, there is a frustration through the voice given to Zara because she desperately wants her visitors to know she can hear everything they are saying and doing; yet she is unable to emote this to them. Simply put, Ms. Pulford has demonstrated she was in command of her pen’s destiny from beginning to end in Broken. It was put together prolifically and I look forward to her next body of work.

    Quill says: Broken is an intricate hypothesis of the inner works of the mind and what it might be like to exist in a comatose state.

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