Fractured Tide by Leslie Lutz
Sia practically grew up in the water scuba diving, and wreck dives are run of the mill. Take the tourists out. Explore the reef. Uncover the secrets locked in the sunken craft. But this time … the dive goes terribly wrong.
Attacked by a mysterious creature, Sia’s boat is sunk, her customers are killed, and she washes up on a deserted island with no sign of rescue in sight. Waiting in the water is a seemingly unstoppable monster that is still hungry. In the jungle just off the beach are dangers best left untested. When Sia reunites with a handful of survivors, she sees it as the first sign of light.
Sia is wrong.
Between the gulf of deadly seawater in front of her and suffocating depth of the jungle behind her, even the island isn’t what it seems.
Haunted by her own mistakes and an inescapable dread, Sia’s best hope for finding answers may rest in the center of the island, at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole that only she has the skills to navigate. But even if the creature lurking in the depths doesn’t swallow her and the other survivors, the secrets of their fractured reality on the island might.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED MAY 5TH, 2020
In case you’ve forgotten how deep and dangerous the ocean can be, Fractured Tide is here to remind you.
When I started Fractured Tide, I wanted so badly for it to truly be a thriller. Last month, All the Pretty Things let me down in that department, and my approach to this book was wary as a result. Was it going to be a boring plot with the thriller label slapped on top? Was it actually going to thrill, and surprise the hell out of me!
Thankfully, it lived up to expectations. When Sia’s latest wreck diving excursion goes wrong, it goes wrong in all the worst ways. There’s something in the water, something violent, and it strands her on a deserted island with only her little brother and a couple of teenage strangers for company. There’s no sign of her capable mother, there are plenty of hints about the beast in the sea, and rescue seems far distant, if not impossible.
And that’s before things start getting even stranger.
This book is full of almosts in the most delightful way.
I think it’s important to have almosts in a thriller. The main character is almost right. The antagonist is almost what’s expected. And the solution is almost in sight. Yet almost isn’t exact, and that gap between impression and reality gets to be unsettling not only for the characters, but for the reader. Coming so close to understanding the true scope of the dangers at hands is worse than total understanding. That element of the unknown hovers over your shoulder, lurking only in your peripheral vision. It sneaks out of the way when you look at it head on, and makes you afraid to trust that things are what they appear to be on the surface.
Really, I’m delighted that this thriller was actually a thriller. It’s dangerous and uncertain, and I couldn’t be sure what was going to happen next even though I had my suspicions. Plus, it does an outstanding job of introducing bits and pieces of uncanny valleyesque content, enough that no one can ever quite get comfortable. Sometimes those elements struck me as ultimately outlandish or didn’t have enough explanation for my tastes, resulting in a 4.5 star rating instead of a rounded 5 star, but it’s something of a small complaint next to the solid structure of the rest of the book.
“Look fear in the face, and when you do, you make fear small.”
Fractured Tide’s best feature, though, is Sia. Her POV forms the bulk of the book, in the shape of letters to her father. She records as much of her time on the island as possible, along with the tragic events that stranded her there, and every entry drips with determination. Even though Sia is trapped in a situation nearly impossible to survive, she doesn’t throw in the towel. Her brother is stranded with her, as are two other teenagers relying on her survival know-how to make it just another day. People are depending on her for their lives, and she does her best to rise to the occasion.
Really, it was refreshing to read about a heroine who’s so clearly afraid of what’s ahead, but refuses to give in. She may not know how to fix the entire situation, but she keeps pushing forward.
Even more delightful to me, though, was her relationship with her brother. I’m a known sap for stories centering siblings, and while this isn’t wholly centering Sia and Felix, he’s the main reason she tries so hard. He’s only seven, and washing up on an island after a sea creature attacked the boat he was on has to be traumatic. But his big sister loves him and wants to protect him. They have each other, despite all the danger, and it makes me soft.
Not only that, but I appreciated Sia’s interactions with the other two teens on the island. They joined forces in the name of survival, but that doesn’t mean it was all hunky dory. Stuck together for the foreseeable future, they cooperate and clash in equal measure, teetering dangerously close to Lord of the Flies territory now and again without ever feeling unbelievable or overblown for the drama.
If you want mysteries of the sea and uncanny danger, Fractured Tide might be for you!
I truly had fun with this book. With only a couple minor complaints, it went above and beyond initial expectations, making a great, gripping read. After smashing through it in one sitting, I can absolutely recommend it. Plus, it’s almost here! Publication is on schedule, and you can expect to see it available for sale starting on May 5th!
And I’m beginning to think it might be worth reading again, just to parse out the foreshadowing. It would be par for the course with this one… 👀
CW: smoking, violence (including gun violence), gore, graphic injury, loss of a loved one, underage drinking, suicidal ideation