Author: Megan Miranda.
Publisher: Walker & Company.
Summary (taken from GoodReads): Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?
Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?
For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.
Cover impressions: Once your publisher starts promoting your book and mentioning it in the same vein as two of the most well received books in YA in recent years, immediately you have a lot to live up to. While I didn't adore “If I Stay”, I thought it achieved its objective – to present a young woman's life and her existential struggles – with a deft hand, one that is difficult to pull off for even the most talented writer. For Megan Miranda's debut (which is also a standalone, a refreshing occurrence in a field that churns out more multi-book series than it knows what to do with), the personal elements are much more successful than other parts.
The relatively short “Fracture” has many ideas running through it and, perhaps inevitably, not all of them work. The main issue arises from a lack of a central focus, which leaves the narrative prone to wandering off and slowing down to almost a complete halt. Sometimes the book can't decide what it wants to be – does it want to be a romance? A mystery? An exploration of human nature and death? Each segment succeeds to varying degrees, although none is given enough time to develop into something truly gripping, although the potential is clearly there, especially in the mystery elements, where Miranda creates some surprisingly tense moments and even surprised me when I thought things were becoming too predictable. Some scenes feel rushed and/or have no real resolution. A strong editor could work wonders for this book and turn it from good to great.
I've read some reviews which levelled complaints with the heroine Delaney and her coldness, but I actually found this rather refreshing. She provided a welcome change from the usual selection of blank faces I've become all too accustomed to in YA. I can definitely see many readers having a problem with this though. Her multiple boy troubles, however, grated on me. No less than 3 young men are presented as possible love interests for Delaney and none are given any page time to develop into a viable option for her (although, to give huge credit to Miranda, she turns the tables when things seem to be following an all to familiar YA romance route.) The story needed to either develop the romantic element further, concentrating on no more than two boys (you know how much I just love my love triangles!) or getting rid of the sub-plot altogether.
There's one element of this book that I have to discuss. Once again, here's another YA novel with a female antagonist who serves no purpose to the plot other than to be promiscuous and act as a straw-figure to compare the heroine to. She genuinely does nothing of any important besides act as the most minor of road-blocks in the possible relationship between Delaney and best friend Decker, and is almost always described in terms of her tight clothing or promiscuous nature, constantly talking about sex or getting naked. At one point she is described as "pathetic in her too-tight clothes, desperate for attention." We shouldn't have to keep going over this, YA. Stop demonising girls who have sex as sluts! Stop using it as a cheap shortcut to avoid characterisation of the already clichéd and damaging teen female antagonist role! The character was of no consequence and really didn't need to be in the book, so her inclusion felt all the more bitter and forced me to knock half a star from the review.
The potential within “Fracture” is evident and there are moments where Miranda really shines, especially within the mystery elements and Delaney's inner turmoil, but it's a work that needs to be seriously fleshed out. If certain plot lines, characters and situations could be tightened up and built upon, the book could be a very interesting and gripping piece of work. As it is, it's a perfectly readable story that fails to satisfy in the way it has the potential to do so.
“Fracture” will be released in USA on January 12th 2012. I received my ARC from NetGalley.com.