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by Megan Miranda

Release Date: 5th Jan 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978 1 4088 1739 1
RRP: £6.99

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Young adult fiction: Forget the afterlife - what happens if your given life after death?

Most definitely a young adult title, Fracture explores the aftermath of a near-death experience. Delaney Maxwell is a walking, talking miracle. After falling through the ice on Falcon Lake, Maine; she finally emerged from a coma six days later – her best friend, Decker, had saved her life. As amazing at her recovery was, Delaney is forced to acknowledge that whilst she may be physically OK, her head is a mess. And she’s not the only one who’s suffering.

When the tingling, itching and inexplicable pulling sensations appear to lead Delaney towards the dying; the fear that she has returned ‘changed’ is let off its leash. Unchecked, it barrels her along into a distinctly unhealthy relationship with Troy – a survivor like her, and like her able to sense the dying – and wreaks havoc on her existing relationships with her parents, friends and Decker.

With adult themes as well as posing philosophical questions about life, existence and what it means to be human: Fracture is hardly your average teenage novel. At seventeen, Delaney is at an important juncture in her life; one where she decides who she is, what she is and who she wants to be with. But add ‘survivor’s guilt’, self-blame for being unable to prevent the fatal seizures of a friend and the conflict of loving someone who is also your best friend and you’re talking about some psychologically intense emotions. Miranda writes thoughtfully, carefully considering the real reactions of a teenager going through some serious stuff and deftly handling the delicate dance of deconstructing a relationship and making it something new.

As far as debut novels go; Fracture is a decent effort. There is a little bit of posturing - an impression that narrative thinks itself more intellectually challenging than it actually is - what with all the anthropological deliberations and the internalised preoccupation with what constitutes “hell”, or heaven, for that matter. Miranda’s characterisation is good; we believe in Delaney’s difficulties, although the inclusion of her mother’s abusive family history seems a bit random and unnecessary. I read this is a day, in a single sitting. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe Fracture as riveting, and it lacks the suspense of a good psychological thriller…perhaps: teen drama with an added bit of depth. But that description feels a little churlish – so we’ll go with: psychologically tense drama.

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