Born Scared

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

This is an interesting concept - you rarely see agoraphobia addressed in YA literature - but for some reason it just felt flat to me. It's like the book is trying to make Elliott one way, but then it shoehorns in some odd, supernatural aspects that don't fit in with the rest, like misaligned puzzle pieces. Over all this was a fast read - I read it in one night - but I don't think it was particularly memorable.
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I liked the concept of this book but I didn't like that there were two different stories that intertwined. I much liked the story about Elliot but couldn't keep up with the constant back and forth with the plot.
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I'm not sure why, but I was under the impression that this was a middle grade horror novel. It's not. 

Born Scared is a young adult psychological thriller with a protagonist dealing with mental illness. His inner demons are just as frightening (and sometimes even more so) than anything real he encounters. 

When his mom goes out in a blizzard to get his medication, Elliot waits on pins and needles for her to return. When she doesn't come back, Elliot does the unthinkable and goes in search of her. 

Alone at night, Elliot encounters monsters, both imagined and real. Not only does he need to survive the beasts his imagination conjures, but he also has to battle the elements and some very real threats. 

This book was unexpectedly suspenseful and intriguing. It's a quick read and I devoured it in just a few hours. An interesting look at mental illness, the people that suffer from it, and the ones that love them.

Content: Perilous situations, violence, and some mild language.
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Reading from the POV of Elliot; a young man with severe anxiety was very interesting. I've never experienced anxiety in that form, but I feel like I can understand it better now. 

Born Scared was well written, the monologues between Elliot and Ellamay were very intense, I feel like the writer could've done more after the book ended, but it was nice the way it was.
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I wanted to like it. I tried to like it. I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t like Elliott. I couldn’t sympathize or really understand what was going on with him.full review on Goodreads.
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A BIG Thank You to Netgalley and Candlewick Press for providing me a copy of “Born Scared” by Kevin Brooks in exchange for my review. I had high expectations for this book! A YA psychological thriller about mental illness, with an awesome cover? I knew I had to read this one! However, it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.

The main aspect I loved about this book was the dark and eerie atmosphere it creates. The author has beautifully blended the fairy tale fantasies with the horrors of adult life. I felt like I was in a backdrop of a very creepy and dark version of “Twin Peaks”. A town where everyone is a little strange and odd things keep occurring. There are also some terrifying moments that had me to the edge of my seat. I tensed when Elliot stumbled into the house in the woods with the two strange men with gun. Also, I thought that the other two villains dressed as Santa Claus were comical but eerie because I didn't know how they would react. I also loved Ellamay as the mysterious character, and still don’t know if she is a ghost or a figment of Elliot's conscious.

However, I had a few problems while reading this novel. The main trouble I had with this story was it was very hard to relate with Elliot. He fears over the most minuscule things, and while it’s interesting to read, it’s difficult to connect with. Also, since Elliot fears everything, it is  difficult to digest the transformation that suddenly occurs. It hits the readers the same time it hits Elliot, and I found it very hard to believe. The book also gets repetitive and monotonous at times where we keep hearing how tormented Elliot is over his fears.

Also, I really felt like Gordon’s character and his story-line was completely out of place. I guess he’s acts to be the comic relief in the plot but it didn't fit right. When the main story-line is so suspenseful, I felt frustrated by the change of mood and setting when Gordon appeared.

Frankly, I enjoyed Kevin Brook’s style of writing and am interested in picking up some of his other novels. I think he is a wonderful storyteller, and this book would have been amazing if the characters were relatable. While I love reading books about psychology and mental illness, I felt that “Born Scared” was a little too out there, especially as a YA Novel. Overall, "Born Scared" was a good read with some suspenseful moments, but it was not what I had expected.
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I really liked the premise of "Born Scared" but the novel just didn't work for me.

The beginning was pretty good, but there were already some supernatural seeming things that just didn't seem to fit the rest of the story, and then the story started switching perspectives and it was just really weird. Towards the end of the story the perspective switching got worse and it just really annoyed me. What I also didn't like was the development of the main character, it just didn't seem natural and I'm not really sure what was going on there.

On the plus side I really liked the writing.

Overall, this book really disappointed me.
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What it's about:

Elliot is scared of the world. Colors, cars, dogs, noises… He’s just scared of things and he doesn’t know why. Because of this he never leaves his home, he rarely leaves his bedroom. One winter day his mother has to go out to pick up his prescription after a medical mix up and Elliot finds himself alone. When his mother doesn’t return, he prepares to leave the safety of his home to find her. 

What I liked:

This novel is packed full of mental health representation. Not only Elliot, but his aunt Shirley and her son as well, have mental issues of their own. The story unfolds in a way that kept me interested. The different characters and scenes all coming together to create a story that was suspenseful and mysterious. I was never bored, and I loved seeing the world from Elliot’s perspective. 

What I disliked:

My only complaint is that the ending was too abrupt. I wanted more. I felt like it ended way too soon.


Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to read this wonderful story. I finished it in just a few short hours, because I couldn’t seem to put it down.
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This book was well written and the characters well developed. I love the inside look at true phobias and mental health. However, the storyline didn't really work for me.
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I recived a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you! All opinions are my own.

I've been a little torn how to rate it - the idea of the book is incredibly interesting, a story about fear. Awareness of mental health is incredibly important and I think the author portrayed Elliot's inner demons very well. Alas, as a thriller the story didn't work for me.
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A quick read that offers a complex character battling his anxiety, inner demons and a couple of deadly Santa Clause’s. 

“Born Scared” tells the story of Elliot, a young boy who has battled crippling anxiety since birth who runs out of medication and is forced to venture out into the world after his mother fails to return home. On this adventure into the unknown he is forced to make the decision to hide or fight as he comes face to face with what he fears most. 

I don’t have anxiety or a mental illness similar to that of our main character so I am curious to what people think of this portrayal who actually deal with that in their every day lives, but I have to say it was written in a way that really got you into his mindset rather quickly so you were able to understand his motivations and that push and pull between him wanting to find his mother but also being a bit of a prisoner to the illness. 

The changing narratives were a great companion to the main story as the supporting cast of characters also had a personal moment of reflection where they realized they were at a turning point in their lives and made the decision to become someone else. 

Overall I really liked this and it’s such a quick read that for anyone looking for a bit of an adventure and the struggle to face your demons head on will enjoy this even if it is a filler to hold you over before your next read! 

**special thanks to the publishers and netgalley for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review!**
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