A group of teens finds friendship in the aftermath of tragedy.
Petra McGowan, sitting next to Martin McGee at her high school graduation ceremony, is uneasy—readers find out why later—but Martin, friendly and open-hearted, invites her to his post-graduation party even though the two white teens haven’t met before. But when Petra and her friends get to Martin’s house, they find it empty and silent. Subsequently, they learn that Martin and his best friend have gotten into a drunken driving accident, and Martin is in a coma. The story attempts to unfold: Martin’s and Petra’s friends forge bonds in the hospital waiting room, and first Petra and then others begin to encounter Martin in their dreams while sleeping, which has the ultimate effect of bringing the two groups of friends together and healing an earlier trauma of Petra’s. But too many characters and too many points of view (Petra and Martin tell their stories in alternating first-person, and the other characters interact with dream-sequence Martin in third-person), as well as some seriously convoluted language that just won’t quit, terminally obscure the plot. Characterization is one-dimensional and revolves primarily around a disdain for high school and parents. Then there is the gratuitous diversity problem: The Latina, Indian, and black characters exhibit no cultural distinction beyond skin color or speaking Spanish occasionally.
A potentially interesting premise is marred by convoluted language, cardboard characters, and dismissive diversity. (Fiction. 14-18)