Born Scared

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

This was an extremely poor take on mental illness and trauma. I would hope the author and publisher do better in the future when it comes to these subjects.
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Don't want to spill some kind of bad publicity here but I did not like how this one ended. Poor take on the mental health thing. Sorry, not my cup of tea. 

Rating: 2.5 stars
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I had high hopes for this one and it was a let down. I had a hard time believing that no one would really care about the protagonist's issues. I felt like it was a poor take on trauma and mental illness.
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Born Scared by Kevin Brooks sounded like an interesting book from the description, however after reading it and weighing what I liked and disliked, I decided that it just wasn't the book for me.

Elliot is a boy who is scared of everything.  He has been that way since he was born.  When an awful snow storm prevents the delivery of his medication, Elliot decides that he must take matters into his own hands and do something about his predicament.  Will Elliot finally get over his debilitating fear or everything?

I had high hopes for this intriguing story and was disappointed upon reading it.  I felt it moved from oddly fascinating to downright strange.  I understood where the author was going with the book, but I just couldn't jive with it.  The book is well written, though, and I would be interested in reading another book by Kevin Brooks.  I just think that Born Scared was a little too strange for my liking. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for this e-ARC!  All opinions are my own.
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This was a very powerful perspective to view the world from.  To have anxiety as extreme as Elliot’s seemed terrifying.  It was amazing that Eliot was able to function as well as he did.  It was so brave of him to look for him mother.  There were a few times on his adventure where things could have been better for him if he had been brave enough to approach people who were trying to help him.  However, I can understand why the author made those choices based on how the story ended.  The ending was not quite what you would have expected but was a worthwhile way to wrap up all the plot points.

I received an eARC via netgalley and the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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Recently, I told my mom about a horror novel I was reading. Her response to me telling her what genre I was reading was, "Is there any redeeming qualities to the book? What's the point of it?" That's what I found myself asking when I finished this novel.

Born Scared is a really short book about a boy who is afraid of everything. I was not a fan of this concept, which was the first problem I had with this book. The main conflict of a book doesn't have to be realistic, I think, but it at least needs to be believable-- two very different ideas. While Born Scared is set in the real-world, the main character has this internal conflict that is never explained except for "he's had it since he was born", and there's really nothing else that explains this unrealistic phenomenon. A boy being scared of everything for no logical reason is not believable or enjoyable to read about.

The progression of the plot was uneventful, except for when it was overly gruesome for no reason. The boy runs away from his home and is evading everyone that is trying to get him back to safety... and then there's a subplot with a kidnapping? I didn't see the point of that bit, either. I think it was trying to say something about the boy and running away from his responsibilities, but I don't think it was the right way to go about his internal struggle. 

But wait! At the end, the boy is suddenly not afraid anymore! So the whole book was pointless in my eyes. I don't see the point in reading a book that has no redeeming qualities except for to gross you out with a scene in which the main character breaks his leg (something that I've been uneasy of since The Giver-- but that's just me), so I can't recommend this book to anyone.

I've giving Born Scared two stars instead of one because the writing style was decent enough.
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Elliot has been afraid ever since he was born, when his twin sister was absorbed in the womb. This young man can only barely function with the anxiety pill regimen he takes. Without the pills, he becomes a frightened sobbing mess in his room. With the pills, he stays cloistered in his room and only interacts with a select few people. It is super important that he take his pills regularly throughout the day. However, when the pharmacy has a mix up with his pills around Christmas, Elliot becomes dangerously close to being without his meds. After the neighbor who was supposed to bring the pills by never shows, Elliot’s mother walks over to see what is going on. When hours pass and she doesn’t come back, Elliot makes the trek without his pills. This short distance becomes immense, when neighbors, dogs, and criminals disrupt Elliot’s journey to his mom and his meds. 

This book was strange. I still don’t really know how I feel about it. I don’t necessarily know if this is an accurate portrayal of mental illness. I feel bad for Elliot, but I never connected with him. It was a strange book…
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The atypical narrative format is on trend right now. We're presented with a scene or a voice and given the journey to the current point in fits and starts. Brooks seems especially fond of this sort of circuitous narrative, showing us how lines intersect to reach a final point. This particular book might have been helped by a little more reality. The protagonist's extreme fear of the world, the final confrontation in the house, these things didn't feel quite real enough to me.
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Trigger Warnings: Death; Gore; Kidnapping; Drugging; Freezing; Manipulation; Mental Illness (paranoia, anxiety, OCD); Hostage Situations; Attempted Murder; Fear; Pain; Physical Injuries

So, I loved this book. Immensely. It was so interesting, and had a main character that was very easy to love. Elliot not only speaks to things I've experienced, but also seems to understand things in a way others don't. If you want an understanding of what it's like to have chronic paranoia and an understanding of the reality of death, I really recommend you pick up this book.
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I pretty much read this in one sitting. I was that invested in this story. Reading about Elliot and his fear was intense. It was a look into the mind of someone dealing with intense anxiety. And it's one of those things where if it can go wrong, it will. I appreciated what Kevin brought to the table, and I found myself getting so absorbed with this book, and I could picture everything so easily. It was nice to really find myself being drawn into a different setting than my own.
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Born Scared is a different kind of story. It is told with a multi-person point-of-view, and while multi-person narrations are not uncommon, it’s the mixing of the first person narration—the main character, Elliot—and the unknown third person narration that I found interesting.

Elliot’s mental illness—panophobia, or the fear of everything—gives the story a reverse Don Quixote vibe. Sir Quixote saw everything as something it was not: the windmills as giants, the dilapidated inn as a castle, and—of course—himself as a noble knight. Elliot also saw everything as something it was not, however Elliot also saw everything as a threat: the monkem with a monstrous black dog and a shotgun was actually a nice lady with a cane trying to help him, who’s dog got away from her, and the devilish creatures with yellow demonic eyes are actually sheep.

But once Elliot comes across the Hillbillies and real fight-or-flight kicks in the story takes on a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feel. One second Elliot is the scared little kid that he’s always been, and the next he’s this psychotic, nothing-can-get-in-my-way badass that you’d never guess he had in him. Which is cool. You no longer feel sad for Elliot and his way of life, you’re glad he’s no longer frightened with everything little sight and sound, and finally able to stand up and fend for himself, but deep down you still know something isn’t right.

A big part I didn’t care for and didn’t really understand was the other side of the narrative: the two guys in the Santa suits. I understand their need for the end of the story, but I don’t understand why they are in the house in the first place. Things just didn’t align for the reasoning to be there. And when things don’t align or more sense, it can cause issues throughout the story. 

All around—like I previously stated—Born Scared is a different kind of story. Parts were a little hard to follow due to the psychotic breaks Elliot has throughout the story, while other parts just didn’t make sense at all. I liked the multi-person point-of-view, it gave the story an interesting perspective, and I loved the homage shown to two great classic works of literature. But honestly, Born Scared is not one that I would read again, and it’s not one that I can really recommend. 

 

From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
—Dani

Dani's Score out of 5: 📚📚🔖 (2.5/5)

(A bookmark:🔖, is a half a stack of books. i.e: 📚📚🔖 = a score of 2.5)
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Elliot is such a sweet character that I wanted to protect at all costs. 

Elliot is afraid of everything to the point that at 13-years-old is now a shut-in and hardly leaves his room and is fully reliant on the medicine his doctor has prescribed him. While the medicine isn't enough to fully help him, it is enough that it keeps him from constantly spiraling. When it's time to refill his prescription on Christmas Eve the pharmacy messes up, and with several other mishaps having happened, his mom has now gone out to get the medicine leaving him alone with only a few pills left that he is supposed to take every few hours. As time runs out and his mom is still no where in sight, he decides that he needs to go out and find her and his medicine. 

Elliot is such a special character to me, he was born prematurely and lost a sibling all in a very short amount of time in his young life. These events appear to have left their mark on him in a way of severe anxiety that is unexplainable by doctors it seems. This has left him in a really rough space, with seemingly no real answers as on the medicine has helped a little. The bravery he ends up showing when he feels like his mom is in danger is truly heartwarming, and really shows how much he truly does understand about his fear and anxiety for being so young. 

Overall I really liked this book. I liked seeing things from Elliots perspective as well as from another characters perspective that had something to do with his mom. These two perspectives ended up tying things together and really made the story more enjoyable. 
The bravery and the reality of Elliots anxiety and how willing he was to do things for the fear of his mom and the need for his medicine is a real thing that so many people go through. I loved that this was something talked about in a Middle grade novel and it's not something that was just swept under the rug. We need more book that actual show the realities of Anxiety and how it can affect people to make it more normalized and to help make people feel less alone. This book has the potential to do that and I can't wait to see what middle schoolers think of it!
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This book is well-written, but I don't enjoy stories that spend a lot of time on description physical actions (sporting events, fights, etc) and about 90% of this book is vivid description of the anxiety-ridden journey into the outside world of a young man who is completely debilitated by fear of leaving his room. I thought the premise was interesting, but there was just too much non-stop panic for me to enjoy it. I sort of skimmed through and read the ending, which was pretty well-done.
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Born Scared is  the story of Elliott,  a boy terrified of everything. He is only (close to) happy when he is safe in his soundproofed room all alone. All alone except for the voice of Ellamay, his stillborn twin sister.  When his anti-fear pills run out and his mother doesn't come back with more, Elliott knows he has to act well outside of his comfort zone to make sure that his mother gets to come back. 
I found the story wholly unbelievable and disliked the main character immensely. It was well written, however, so other may enjoy it.
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Narrative from a couple of points of view that starts out as a fast paced action story on one hand;  and on the other hand there is a complex drama that is presented as a possible brain issue for young Elliot who is afraid of everything.  It isn’t clear how the two stories get tied together until very near the end.

Elliot always remembers being scared.  His mother and the one doctor he can tolerate being around attempt to figure out what is wrong with him.  When Elliot gets low on his medication that helps calm his fears, and others can’t resolve the issue, he forces himself to try to check on the situation.  But with all the fear in his mind, it becomes confusing on what is happening and what is anxiety induced; and then a quick ending to the story leaves lots of unanswered questions about characters.
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Everything about this book was amazing. It's a short and very endearing story, and I honestly loved it so much.

Elliot, our main character, is a child who since birth is afraid of anything and everything, and his running out of anxiety medication helped him save his mum and his aunt, which is pretty awesome. This is not a book claiming that doing things that scare you will solve all your problems and it'll help you stop being scared, but it's all about accepting yourself for who you are and not letting the voices in your head hinder you from achieving your full potential. The writing style helped a great deal with how this story unfolded and it fit perfectly.

If you haven't already, I'd 100% recommend this book
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Born Scared is a fictional glimpse into the world of mental illness. Yet, for some, this a story that will ring true, even if only in part. With sprinklings of suspense, Brooks brilliantly explores a serious 'what-if' situation and took me into Elliot's mind, which was a scary place to be. 

Highly recommend to readers who enjoy suspense thrillers centering on mental health issues.
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I wanted to read this book because the premise sounded really intriguing. Right away, there are high stakes and it has that man versus himself thing going on that I really love in stories.

Some of Elliot’s experiences made total sense with his fear issues and the way people would normally react in those situations. But as the story progressed, some of the experiences Elliot had got more and more extreme, and I couldn’t decide if he was hallucinating or imagining the worst-case outcome in a given situation and reporting it as if it happened, or if bad things really were happening to him.

Other characters have short scenes from their points of view, and those seemed to support Elliot’s version of events, so I guess that’s what happened? Unless those were imaginary people he created? I don’t know. That seems farfetched.

As Elliot continued the search for his mom, he found a boldness and courage that was inspiring. I liked the way the story followed multiple threads which converged in a single scene.

On the other hand, I struggled with some of the events. I feel like either Elliot must have imagined certain parts of the story (because his actions seemed so out of character and because so many things seemed like the worst-case scenario playing out) or they were real events that seem too farfetched for me to believe.

Fans of A. S. King would probably really like this story. While I found it really interesting and liked Elliot’s character, I find I’m left with this feeling that I didn’t really get the story somehow.
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“Born Scared” was my first read by Kevin Brooks. I love everything psychology and mental health related so when I read the blurb for this book, I knew it would be one that I needed to check out. Elliot is scared. The only thing he is not scared of is his room. That is his safe space. When something unexpected happens, Elliot is forced to face hi fears in ways he thought unimaginable but at what cost?
    “Born Scared” was not what I expected but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As an anxious person myself, I could identify a bit with Elliot just a little. The writing style was good. I don’t know if this would be considered a middle grade read as some very adult things take place. I did enjoy the changing point of views although a few of them were out of place and really did not fit into the story in my opinion. 
**I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
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Thanks to Candlewick Press for an advanced copy of this title for the purposes of review:

	When it comes to recent fare from middle-grade literature, they generally have been following a very stream-lined approach of placing clichés and familiarity over the boldness that other, upper-level genres could provide. However, Kevin Brooks’ latest release, Born Scared, is anything but conventional. Starring a lead protagonist named Elliot who is afraid of almost everything in sight, the title features themes and situations that seemed to be restricted to young adult and even fully-fledged adult literature. These themes are scattered handily throughout the book’s evenly placed story, despite a lackluster finale that ultimately compromises what the previous moments in the story had accomplished. Nonetheless, Born Scared is a daunting and personal outlook into the psychological implications of what it means to be human that handles its dense themes with ease even if there are rough edges to be discovered. 

	As mentioned in the brief synopsis, Born Scared depicts the protagonist, Elliot, a young boy who has a heartbreaking condition as to where fear controls nearly everything in his life. After several incidents involving psychologists, he is finally prescribed medication that is effective in calming him. But on a snowy night and when he is running low on medication, his fear, the beast trapped inside of him, finally begins to take control. From the very start, it’s ultimately clear how mature the storytelling is. I was shocked by the depth Brooks takes when exploring the theme of constantly being scared. It’s a thrilling and daunting experience and one that is heightened by the character of Elliot himself. By the book being told in first person, it feels as if the reader is truly placed into Elliot’s head. As a result, when the scene turns icily tense, that same emotion is carried onto the reader, an effective achievement that is seen rarely in middle-grade literature. This achievement is also bolstered by the smart and quick writing style of Brooks. There is rarely a sentence or even phrase that feels off-putting or unnecessary. Each scene feels rightly integrated into the story and contributes to the greater emotion of terror and fear, making the moderate length of the book feel expertly paced.

	When it comes to issues with the book, it’s collectively clear that Brooks wasn’t entirely sure on how to handle the conclusion of the story, a worthy question given that this story is so unique to a genre that is usually considered childish. While the end result is still daunting and bold in its plot design, I wish that Brooks had taken the themes of the conclusion even further. It feels watered down as to where the potential emotional resonance of the final sequences are terminated almost immediately, leading to a rather drab final act. It certainly doesn’t help the book’s case that its ending is both abrupt and diluted as well. 

	As a collective whole, Born Scared is a riveting and in-depth portrayal of a theme that is rarely explored in the middle-grade genre. For that feat alone is Born Scared a worthy read, but it also goes far beyond with its intricate and tightly written structure that allows for a balanced experience. It may become diluted and confused in its thematic structure during its final sequences, but this issue never fully compromises the literary genius in some of the earlier moments. Born Scared positions itself as more than just another installment in a clichéd genre; it identifies itself as a work that is worthy for all genres. 


Score: 8.1 out of 10
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