Title: Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)
Author: Sarah Fine
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
It goes without saying that I couldn’t wait to delve into Fractured when it arrived on my doorstep. I loved Fine’s debut, Sanctum, last year, and couldn’t get enough of her complex world or even more tantalizing characters. Needless to say, I charged into Fractured with high expectations and have been, for the most part, fairly satisfied. Does Fractured fall short of hitting a few high notes? Sadly, yes, but I can guarantee that this sequel will still manage to satisfy fans and keep them thirsting for more. (Believe me, after this ending you will be willing to sell your soul to find out how this trilogy ends!)
Fractured picks up where Sanctum left off, with Malachi and Lela back in the human world. Fine excels in putting Lela back into the realm she left before, forcing her to face seemingly mundane issues. In particular, I loved Lela’s relationship with Dianne, her foster mother. We continue to uncover so many layers of vulnerability to Lela as we begin to learn – and live – with her current situation. Moreover, Lela must acclimate in high school, this time without Nadia. Fine slowly, but surely, eases Lela back into her old lifestyle, but making pointed changes, making Lela open herself to others, trust in friendship, and rely on loyalty.
Additionally, as Captain, Lela is in charge of the unit to find, hunt, and kill the Mazikin roaming in the human realm. Malachi, despite his seventy years of experience, is underneath Lela in terms of rank, which changes their relationship dynamic. More than that, though, Lela must assume responsibility, making decisions for those around her and following through with their consequences. Malachi, as Lieutenant, also struggles, however, both in the human world and with his own sense of firm morality. Fine takes Malachi on a dark path, psychologically, in Fractured, forcing him to accept many of the truths he took for granted in the past, which I love. Yet, I wish Malachi were explored in greater depth in this novel. Fractured is largely Lela’s novel, which I appreciate, but I felt as if the narrative could have benefited from a deeper insight into Malachi’s troubles as well.
A primary reason for this divide, though, is the fact that Lela and Malachi experience more than their fair share of utterly irritated relationship trouble. Sanctum developed the romance between these two perfectly – broken, but healing – and while I expected to see a struggle between Lela and Malachi in terms of maintaining their relationship, I didn’t expect the heavy dose of high school drama that came with it. Fractured introduces quite a few new characters with only a handful of them truly managing to get under your skin and make an impact. Sadly, the rest are background characters, existing solely for the purpose of creating tension in Lela and Malachi’s relationship – a trick that is just a little too old in the YA Genre these days.
What Fine does right, though, is keep this to a minimum. Instead, her novel is focused on the emotional growth of her characters and, most importantly, the plot thread of hunting down the Mazikin. Fractured brings forth a whole slew of bad-assery and unexpected twists, making for an enticing read despite the paranormal setting. Lela, in particular, has honed her skills and is a woman to be reckoned with, in terms of fighting prowess, which makes for an utterly action-packed novel. Fine, additionally, drops just enough hints about the Mazikin to keep us satisfied, but also keep us guessing about their true nature. We still remain largely in the dark about these beings, but I am fully confident that all answers will be revealed in the stunning conclusion next year.
Granted, Fractured may have not held my attention or kept my interest nearly as much as its predecessor did, but there were still plenty of bright spots. Lela continues to shine as a complex and intriguing protagonist while the plot of this novel never loses its breath-taking pace. With the high school setting, the middle can drag – just a little bit – but all-in-all, this is a sequel fans of Sanctum aren't going to want to miss. It's Sarah Fine, so as always, it's utterly readable, beautifully crafted, and such a pleasure to curl up with. Just be prepared for a little less Malachi, a little more kick-ass Lela, and a horde of crazy Mazikin, and you should be good to go! ;)