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Born Scared

Review

Born Scared

Elliot was born scared --- literally. Ever since birth, he's suffered from an extreme fear disorder which even all his doctors have struggled to identify, but through trial and error have managed to medicate well enough. As long as Elliot sticks to his routine of pills each day and makes sure to be properly stocked up on backup pills, his fear --- or the "beast", as he refers to it --- will remain contained.

"BORN SCARED is a quick-paced thriller....The poetic writing and vivid imagery evoked by Brooks conjures...an intense and terror-wrought story..."

Although the pills help to keep the beast at bay, Elliot still lives under many restrictions: rarely leaving his house, only interacting with his doctor, his mom, and his Auntie Shirley, and even restricting which colors he comes into contact with, as the slightest thing can trigger his fear. For 13 years Elliot has lived like this, until one unforgettable Christmas Eve, when a mishap occurs at the pharmacy, and Elliot's left without a refill of his prescription. His mother ventures out into a snowstorm to head to the pharmacy and fix the issue before the beast escapes, but she doesn’t return.

Running on his last pill, Elliot decides he has no other choice but to venture out after his mom, risking the beast finally escaping and his fear overcoming him in the process. Elliot's fear affects everything in his life, from the way he interacts to the way he experiences everything, to the point where it even skews his reality at times. Despite this, he perseveres and embarks on a journey which would be terrifying even without a fear disorder clawing inside of him and threatening to escape at any moment.

Kevin Brooks' BORN SCARED is a quick-paced thriller which tells a tale of intuition, courage and true fear. The poetic writing and vivid imagery evoked by Brooks conjures such an intense and terror-wrought story that the reader will experience the beast of fear within themselves, scratching to get out. BORN SCARED is an honest and raw look at mental illness from a first person point of view, and helps to allow a deeper understanding of the intense inner battle with anxiety, which is an everyday reality for some people. This suspenseful novel is full of lively descriptions, intense twists and turns, and surprises behind every corner.

The story flips between Elliot's first person point of view, so the reader can identify with his thoughts and follow along with his perception of the nights events, and a third person point of view which allows the reader insight on the events Elliot isn't yet aware of --- as well as what waits for him as he nears the end of his journey. This isn't just a story of bravery when it's needed most, but a complete tale of self-discovery and internal realizations which allow Elliot to continue and complete a journey which he would've otherwise deemed impossible for himself. Brooks has crafted an intuitive and artistic piece, which doesn't romanticize anything but rather details it in such an honest and personal light that it enhances the experience and makes BORN SCARED the addictive and exciting novel that it is.

Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member on October 17, 2018

Born Scared
by Kevin Brooks