The idea behind this book was really interesting - how does someone with acute fear of absolutely everything cope when they are forcibly removed from their comfort zone? I was super interested to read about the background to Elliot’s fear as well as how he’d manage to find his mother.
In some ways, the book worked well. I liked the way the different story threads intersected and wove together to reach the final conclusion. And you certainly couldn’t say that Elliot lacked development - he basically goes from Cowardly Lion to Liam Neeson from Taken over the course of the novel, which was a bit of a transformation!
Elliot has an internal monologue running nearly all the time with Ellamay - his twin sister who died at birth. Ellamay represents the ‘brave’ part of Elliot - the part that stops him going completely nuts and convinces him to leave the house in search of his mum. This was okay and I thought it was a clever plot device, but I did wish that Ellamay had been a bit better developed as she never really felt like a character in her own right.
However, I felt the story suffered a lack of tension. Which is weird, because the whole thing is supposed to be tense, what with Elliot being frightened of everything (I’m not joking - he is a walking bag of nerves). The first few chapters, where Elliot is steeling himself to leave the house, were tense and I really felt for Elliot. However, once he was on the road the tension abated. I think it was because I could see the inherent harmlessness of the things he encountered (person walking their dog, some sheep) - it’s hard to feel terror for a character when the things they’re facing aren’t actually scary. There are only so many ways an MC can say ‘I was really scared’ or list the physiological effects of terror.
Although I’ve only rated this book as three stars, I would be interested in reading some of Kevin Brooks’ other books as he has a writing style I quite enjoyed. Very accessible, descriptive without being long-winded - just what I like.
I received a copy of Born Scared in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Egmont and Netgalley.