Eric Allen's Reviews > Fragments

Fragments by Dan Wells
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Feb 28, 13

Read from February 13 to 28, 2013

Fragments
Book 2 of the Partials Sequence
By Dan Wells

A Review by Eric Allen

A few years ago, Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games, and while not terrible, it was not exactly the best, nor most original book ever to come along. It sold ridiculously well, and this, in turn, set off what I like to call the Dystopian Revolution. Think hard, you'll see the joke in it eventually, if not outright. Publishers saw that there was huge interest in Dystopian fiction, and many an aspiring writer saw their chance to break into the industry. And since then, we've had a whole slew of Dystopian books, released by a whole slew of different publishers, trying hard to cash in on the fad before it dies. While some of them are pretty good, the majority of these books, I've noticed, read like they're trying to BE Suzanne Collins. They copy her style, which is distracting in and of itself because I really dislike her style. They copy her ideas, which, again, weren't all that original to begin with. They copy her characters, their motivations, their love triangles, and in the end, all we're left with is a whole stack of poorly written, unoriginal books trying to emulate a poorly written, unoriginal book.

Last year, with Partials, Dan Wells took his own crack at the Dystopian genre, and where so many writers fail to deliver, he succeeded spectacularly. He created an interesting post-apocalyptic future, an interesting enemy that is not exactly what it seems, and a pretty stunning plot twist. But at the heart of the story, he created Kira Walker, a very likeable protagonist with a very real problem that she set out to correct, and that led her into a much larger world of mystery than she ever suspected existed. Basically, he did everything right where so many Dystopian authors rarely do. He told an exciting and suspenseful story about a character that is both likeable, and someone that the reader can really get behind and cheer for. It just happened to take place in a Dystopian setting. And THAT is how stories SHOULD be told. Not identifying the genre first and working inward, but starting with the characters, moving out to their conflict, and then to their world, which will eventually lead to the genre in which the story is classified. Far too many authors in the Dystopian genre do it the other way around. They choose their genre, then make their world, toss in some cool sounding conflict, and then, if there's time left over, they'll think about trying to fit an interesting character in. They don't seem to understand that it's the characters and the story that come first. Everything else is secondary.

Dan Wells really outdid himself with Partials. I think I only had one or two little nitpicks about the book. So, how did he fare with the inevitable sequel? Lets take a look.

Convinced that Kira Walker is the key to solving the Partials experation date, Doctor Morgan, leader of one of the Partials factions leads an assault on the last human community on Earth, capturing their entire island and taking every human that can be found prisoner. She demands that Kira, who has disappeared, give herself up, executing one hostage a day to draw her out.

Meanwhile, Marcus, Kira's one-time future husband, organizes a peace envoy to another Partials faction to gain aid in fighting Morgan's troops on the island. Whilst he sues for peace and alliance, walking right into the figurative lion's den, hidden forces of the human Defence Grid make guerilla attacks upon the Partials occupation forces, and try to salvage a nuclear warhead from the wreckage of the last human fleet that the Partials destroyed.

Kira, Samm, and one of his friends that defected with him named Heron, set out west to find the Trust, those who lead the Partials, and may just have been the scientists that created them in the first place. Their goal is to obtain both the cure for the RM virus that kills any and all human children born, and to remove the Partials expiration date. Without the Partials, the human population will die out in a single generation. Without the Humans, the Partials may never find a cure for their own expiration dates. Each group cannot survive without the help of the other, and yet they are locked together in war. It is Kira's hope that investigating the headquarters of Paragen in Denver she can find the solution to the problem, save BOTH sides, and stop the war once and for all.

(view spoiler)

The Good? This is exactly what I look for in a sequel to a good book. It remains faithful to the characters, the story, the setting, and keeps to the rules set down in the first book. And then it builds upon that foundation, reaching outward to new heights, branching out bigger and better than the first book. It is a thing that very, very few authors manage to achieve, and Dan Wells has outdone himself here again. I am constantly amazed at the quality of material he manages to produce, and the speed with which he does it. He is a truly impressive writer and I hope he never backtracks. He gets better with every book that he writes, and Fragments is no exception.

Where the first book centered solely around Kira and was told completely from her viewpoint, the story exapands to several different locations in this book, and thus, incorporates several more viewpoint characters. I know that a lot of fans were apprehensive of this happening in book two before it was released, but have no fears. Wells has done an excellent job of keeping the story interesting, and dividing it amongst likeable and sympathetic supporting characters to keep things moving and keep the story focused where it needs to be focused at all times. Kira's quest does take up a smaller percentage of this book than in the first book, this is true, but the parts of it dealing with her are much better written than in the first book. Really, my only complaint about the first book was that Kira felt more like a girl written by a man than a real girl. This was a nitpick that was expressed by quite a few people whose reviews I have read. In this book, Wells seems to have taken that feedback to heart and done some work on her to make her feel so much more like a realistic young woman than a fictional one. Besides that, the other viewpoint characters add in different perspectives on what is happening in the world for a much clearer, and oftentimes more frightening, picture.

Kira's dilemma, her inner turmoil over revelations given near the end of the previous book, and her determination to set the world to rights make her a much more sympathetic and three dimensional character than she was before. Many of the other characters find themselves in very hard spots throughout the book, and the story is charged with genuine emotion, tension and drama as events play out, and Kira's quest to find the answer to everything unfolds.

The Bad? Honestly, the only bad thing about this book is that I have to wait a whole year for the next one. It was THAT good. In fact, it's amongst the best books I've read in a very, very long time. I always love to see talented new authors coming onto the scene, and Dan Wells is quite talented.

In conclusion, fans of the first book will not be disappointed in this one. It is a worthy sequel to one of the best books of 2012. It remains true to the first book of the series, expounding upon the mysteries and questions that it left, answering some, building up others, and bringing up some new ones. It's bigger and better in every way without forgetting where it began, as so many other followups tend to do. Kira's character feels a lot more realistic than she did previously, and the use of other viewpoint characters gives the world a little more depth and color than it previously had. It is excellently written, exciting, and charged with emotion, tension, drama and action. If I could give this book six stars, I would. It really was that good. Dan Wells has told a great story about great characters that just happens to take place in a Dystopian setting. I only hope that other Dystopian authors follow his lead from now on. He's raised the bar for the genre to a respectable level at last.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Joel  Andrada Jr. I TOTALLY AGREEEEEE


Joel  Andrada Jr. im a fna now im afan


Joel  Andrada Jr. im a fna now im afan


Cameron "Jeff" Briel (King Kunta) I know! I am sad that it's not getting the praise and attention it deserves. This is better than most dystopian novels, better written and has better characters. Nice review :)


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