Junkyard Kids, by Caleb Broderick


Junkyard Kids was a tale of the different variety. A dark, crazy variety. But, oh man, was it good.

After witnessing a murder, and subsequently becoming involved, a gaggle of homeless kids embark on the most terrifying journey. Serial killers, hallucinations, guilt, and plot twists.

There were quite the handful of unique things about this novel. We’ll start with the protagonists. Normally when homeless people are involved, the end goal is, of course, a home. Not in this narrative. To be honest, their main goal is survival. Food, shelter, clothing…all of that takes the biggest back seat. So the author is already deviating from standard tropes.

The main character is a POC. And he’s not a stereotype either. There’s a few intersecting storylines involved in the narrative, and I can’t decide if his or Leon’s is more heartbreaking. His level of development throughout is astronomical. He’s not the only POC in the novel, either. They’re all respected characters, not bad stereotypes.

Alright, now the tone and writing. Easily my favorite part. Mostly because of the dialogue. Instead of keeping everyone speaking “proper” like many novels do, these kids have imperfect grammar. They stutter. They feel like actual, real people.

Character dynamics between each other really came full circle, I feel like. They start together, split up, then come back together. Through everything that happens, they stick together. And, I mean, why not? It emphasizes the point that they’re all each other has left.

I liked the way the plot was set up. It teased readers with the appropriate amount of information. There’s several twists throughout. Most of the time, the reader won’t see coming, even if they recognize the foreshadowing points. I thought I had things all figured out. Nope. Not even close.

I will say some of time jumps took me a second. Chapters are marked with what time period each one takes place in, but it doesn’t feel like the smoothest transition. They did do an excellent job of providing backstory for the reader. They focused on all of the junkyard kids, how they met, and how they got to their current state of things. It’s adds a bit more emotionality and sympathy for them when the reader realizes just how bad things are for them.

Junkyard Kids provides such a powerful, colorful picture. These kids are crazy tough and resilient. And yet, they’re still brilliant. Not just smart (and believe me, they are), but they’re excellent people. This is such a wild, worthwhile read.
Buy it here!

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Hidden in the Dark, by RaShell Lashbrook

4_24_17 Hidden in the Dark

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If you’re ready for an intense, emotional rollercoaster ride, look no further.
Hidden in the Dark tells the tale of three sisters that discover their family secrets.
The tone is immediately set when we open with a man beating his wife. It wasn’t much before she decided to up and leave. Conflict’s established right off the bat. Accepting the author’s hook is a no-brainer: it promises lots of drama.
And it delivers. Through the eyes of each character this tale unfolds. Raine, Randi, Lilly, and Genevieve all tell their sides of the story. Each one weaves another layer to the fabric of this story. It works itself like a puzzle, coming together piece by piece. Three sisters start to remember bits of the awful things their father did. And for some, they learn some new things about themselves.
There is conflict everywhere. But each battle is important to either the characters or the narrative. It pushes the characters along in their development. And there was so much character development. So much drama, but so necessary. It leaves the reader hanging on every word, wanting more and more. All the information is spoon-fed to the reader in such slow, small increments. Such wonderful execution is an art form in and of itself.
While story pacing is excellent, the way the chapters break is frustrating. Chapters would end, only to pick up where they left off in the very next one. It never failed to pull me out of the story because I’m expecting something different.
There was some graphic sex in the novel—most of which was well-written. The author did a better job than most. And it served a purpose to the narrative.
I love the way the author takes the characters’ lives in different directions. Hidden in the Dark touches on varying coping methods. Some healthy, some not. Some expected, some not. By the end, the readers experience an entire spectrum of aftermaths—both good and bad. I loved the fact that not everyone had a happy ending. Leaving such a raw, emotional feeling must have been difficult for the author. But it complimented the rest of the novel so well. Everything fit. Everything felt right. Loose ends were well taken care of.
Hidden in the Dark touches on such sensitive subjects, but does so with tact and grace. It’s a wild ride from both start to finish. This author is one to keep an eye out for.

Buy it here!