Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Published on: January 17, 2012
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge, Completely Contemporary Challenge
Source: ARC from BookExpo
Summary: 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?
FRACTURE was an interesting book. I read it in just over a day, which is quick for a book that seemed like something about it was…too narrow? As in, things could have been expanded; the story could have been WIDER. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I’ll endeavor to explain myself. Because I liked FRACTURE, Megan Miranda’s debut. I did. But I wished there was more of it. More meat on its bones. Or something.
Let’s talk it out.
First of all, I enjoy reading books in which young people have to deal with their own or their loved ones’ mortality. It’s a deep thing, and a little morbid, but I think in the end it always leads to some important revelations about understanding what’s meaningful in life and seeing the symbiotic relationship between grief and love. FRACTURE is definitely one of these kinds of books. Delaney has to deal, not only with issues of mortality and death, but also with the guilt of someone who lives when they should have died. That’s a whole other ball of wax, and FRACTURE deals with it admirably. Delaney struggles with it, and so do her loved ones (more on them in a sec). But I liked having a front-row seat to Delaney’s confusion and the realization that she WANTS to keep living, and that life is full of good things, and that heaven (in whatever form you choose to see it) can be big things AND small. Good stuff.
Delaney herself was a good character. At times she seemed a little…dry, I think is a good word. She spoke often of how important her straight-A average was to becoming valedictorian, her ultimate high school goal. Hilariously, and a little unbelievably to me, she practically DEMANDS to go back to school less than a week after her ALMOST PRETTY MUCH REAL DEATH. I kept thinking, “School?! U crazy, girl! Your coconut is BROKEN! Take a break!” It took a little while to warm up to her for sure, but as things progressed, she started showing a little more emotion and that helped endear her a little bit. It was much easier to like Delaney as she started puzzling things out for herself. Although, some of her feelings were conflicted (as in, they made me feel conflicted. She was just confused and guilty). Take Decker, the best friend/love interest. He was great. Kind of flat, but believably crushworthy. But Delaney kind of went back and forth with her feelings for him, and got pissy–not upset–when he was hooking up with someone else. Their relationship, while mostly awesome, was marred by some weird, typically awkward, “WE’RE ONLY FRIENDS, but you hooked up with this person and I got mad, but then I hooked up with THIS person and YOU got mad, so we’re even Steven now, right?” It was a little crazy.
But moving on to the rest of Delaney’s fam and loved ones, there were a couple of things about them that gave me THOUGHTS. First, her mom. Maybe this was a common theme for me in this book, but I had a hard time figuring out how to feel about her. (Delaney was like this, too, especially in the beginning.) On one hand, she seemed like a not-bad mom to have, who was welcoming to Delaney’s friends and treated them AWESOMELY and appeared cool some of the time and was understandably nervous and anxious about her daughter’s health. On the other, she clearly thought that Delaney was missing the marshmallows from her bowl of Lucky Charms and so found herself totally capable of suspecting her daughter of KILLING THEIR NEIGHBOR and mistrusting Delaney with her medicine. It was like she blamed Delaney for having brain damage from when she DIED. It was weird and kind of infuriating. I didn’t fully believe that THIS mother could have really suspected her daughter of being so out of control like that.
And I know that Decker is the love interest, and I liked him fine. But I need to talk about Troy, the other love interest with some major issues. Speaking positively, it was her interactions with Troy that really made Delaney seem less like a dry, type-A over-achiever and more like a person who is in touch with her beliefs about life and being happy. So that aspect is good. But mostly Troy is creepy, full of anger, demanding, stubborn, and refuses to believe that Delaney doesn’t see things the way he sees them. It started out weird, with him seeming to lie about how he knows Delaney, and progressed into pretty much full-blown psycho boyfriend who used physical intimidation and emotional pig-headedness to force Delaney to his way of thinking. NO LIKEY. He had his own baggage, but still. Not a fan.
In the end, FRACTURE was a good book that seemed like it could have been a teensy bit better. I enjoyed reading about Delaney coming to understand her new life post-accident and the “ability” her brain damage gave her. But there was little explanation of WHY that happened, and I think that would have been welcome. The other characters were good as well, but not all great, and they occasionally acted in ways that I thought seemed strange FOR THEM. And Troy was obviously a very conflicted, tortured guy, but his temper and the way he handled his own ability left LOTS to be desired.
As I mentioned before, FRACTURE felt like it needed some more meat on its bones. (Go ahead, book! Eat that extra doughnut!) The whole story happened over basically the Christmas/New Year holiday (once Delaney leaves the hospital), and so everything felt fast and rushed a little. Her mom kind of loses it in what seems to be a short time. We never had any understanding of what actually happened to Delaney’s brain and why she SHOULD have died, but didn’t. PLUS! There’s a thing that happens to one of Delaney’s friends near the end that was kind of sudden and felt a little awkward. One thing is definitely true, though: I still plowed through this book, and the writing was great. I’m looking forward to Megan Miranda’s next book for sure.