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Fractured Tide Leslie Lutz Main

"Fractured Tide" Book Review

Written by Tony Jones

Published by Blink


Written by Leslie Lutz
2020, 352 pages, Fiction
Released on 5th May 2020


Billed as ‘Lost meets Stranger Things’, Leslie Karen Lutz’s YA debut Fractured Tide is probably more of the former rather than the latter.  The other way round might have been a better fit for 2020, as I’m unsure how many teenagers are aware of Lost these days. Umbrella Academy is the type of current TV drama which might have caught the teen eye, rather than a show which concluded a decade ago. Out of interest, I mentioned Lost to my TV-savvy fourteen-year-old and received a blank stare as a response.

The action kicks off with Sia on a scuba-diving trip; her mother owns a boat and together they entertain tourist on day excursions. Whilst on a dive around a popular shipwreck site, events take a turn for the worse when an inexperienced diver runs into trouble after Sia loses sight of him whilst they are exploring the wreck. Shockingly, he loses his life and the teenager is certain she saw weird, unexplained, coloured lights in the water, which might have distracted him whilst underwater. Unperturbed, later the same day the boat heads out to sea once again, this time with a large group of teenagers, and quickly gets into more trouble. Initially Sia and her mother think they are being stalked by a shark, but soon realise this is something much nastier lurking in the water which quickly claims its first victim.

From that point on, which is still quite early in the novel, expect the unexpected. Monsters, time-travel, Bermuda Triangle-style shenanigans, weird sinkholes, time repeating itself and all sorts of outlandish stuff are thrown into a convoluted mix. I’m not going to go into any details about any of this part of Fractured Tide, just don’t expect it to make much sense, as it is as much X-Files as thriller. Ultimately though, it is still entertaining and in continuing with the comparisons with that famous show Lost, it made little sense too!

Fractured Tide has an odd narrative style which some readers might find both frustrating and a tension killer. The whole story is told in the first person, present tense, by seventeen-year-old Sia in the form of journal entries written for her absent father. Where she found the time to write all this stuff is anybody’s guess. At certain points there are high-octane action sequences and they are punctuated with “Dad” moments at the end of the sentence, and the reader is constantly returned to this rather pedestrian narrative.

As the book is seen entirely from Sia’s point of view, most teenage readers should find her to be a likable and engaging character. However, because of the first-person point of view, most of the other characters fade into the background and do not have much to do. Fellow teenager Ben gets more page-time than most, but still does not do very much, and pops up more than most because Sia has a crush on him and repeatedly dreams of kissing him. As Sia has a lot of swimming and diving experience, the others look at her for guidance as events continue to get more outlandish and she holds things together admirably in the face of adult leadership. Her mother appears in patches and she also has to watch out for her little brother Felix.

Fractured Tide might have a broader YA appeal if there had been more than one POV. Ben is underutilised and there is a lack of strong male teen characters in current YA horror fiction, and this novel is one of many in which girls run the show. Boys often struggle with female ‘voices’ and although the story is unisex, they may grow tired of Sia’s mooning over Ben and other girly musings which are threaded throughout the story. However, when the action gets grittier, Sia is more than capable of handling the action with the boys, which is good to see.

Some of the reveals are handled very nicely and Fractured Tide keeps the reader guessing until the bitter end, which is no surprise, as the story is wild. Even if you pick a few holes in the outlandish plot, it is still very good fun. Much of its eventual success may depend on how teen readers take to the voice of Sia, as she controls the narrative, but overall it is an entertaining genre-bending mix of horror, science fiction and suspense.


Overall: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Buy from Amazon UK

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About The Author
Tony Jones
Author: Tony Jones
Staff Reviewer - UK
Such is Tony’s love of books, he has spent well over twenty years working as a school librarian where he is paid to talk to kids about horror. He is a Scotsman in exile who has lived in London for over two decades and credits discovering SE Hinton and Robert Cormier as a 13-year-old for his huge appetite for books. Tony previously spent five years writing The Greatest Scrum That Ever Was, a history book very few people bought. In the past he has written for Horror Novel Reviews and is a regular contributor to The Ginger Nuts of Horror website, often specialising in YA horror.
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