Title: Born Scared
Author: Kevin Brooks
UK Release Date: 8th September 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Mental Health, Crime
Source: Charity shop
Elliot is terrified of almost everything.
From the moment he was born, his life has been governed by acute fear. The only thing that keeps his terrors in check are the pills that he takes every day.
It’s Christmas Eve, there’s a snowstorm and Elliot’s medication is almost gone. His mum nips out to collect his prescription. She’ll only be 10 minutes – but when she doesn’t come back, Elliot must face his fears and try to find her. She should only be 400 metres away. It might as well be 400 miles…
I’m sure that after reading that blurb you’re absolutely intrigued, as that was my reaction! I talked about Born Scared in my post on September releases I was looking forward to, although it’s taken me quite a while to get around to writing down my thoughts on it. I’ve read two of Kevin Brooks’ other novels, iBoy and The Bunker Diary, and I find his style really interesting, so I was looking forward to reading this book.
I think I end up saying this quite a lot when reviewing books (and there’s probably a lesson here in that I shouldn’t have expectations of a book before I begin!) but I really wasn’t expecting what happened in Born Scared. When I first read the blurb, I thought that what had happened to his mother would be sinister and twisted, and I was quite nervous to find out what it was – I even thought it might be supernatural to some degree. The reality was still sinister, but not too unbelievable, as far as sinister events go.
There was also a split narrative throughout the book, alternating between focusing on Elliot and his mother, and occasionally it switched to Gordon as well. At first I thought it somewhat gave away what was happening to Elliot’s mother and aunt, but I later decided that actually it was necessary as it allowed for build-up – the reader knew what Elliot was going to have to face, and because of this, I spent most of the novel in fearful anticipation of what would happen once Elliot found her.
One of the main focuses of the book was the perpetual fear which Elliot found himself trapped with. As the blurb mentioned, Elliot has had these feelings since he was born, and I thought it was interesting to see his terror explored throughout the book, and his emotional journey as he has to confront his fears as best he can. I also really liked the role Ellamay played within his life – I found her role a tad confusing, as I wasn’t quite sure the entire time if she was a figment of Elliot’s imagination or if it was adding a supernatural element to the book. Either way, I thought she really added to the book as a character.
Overall, I think my verdict on this book has to be that it was rather strange, but I would still recommend it! For me, this book only confirmed further the fact that Kevin Brooks’ books are always highly original and never quite what you expect of them.