Review: Fragments

Author Dan Wells is back with the sequel to the sci-fi blockbuster Partials, which Pittacus Lore called a "thrilling sci-fi adrenaline rush, with one of the most compelling and frightening visions of Earth's future I've seen yet."

After discovering the cure for RM, Kira Walker sets off on a terrifying journey into the ruins of postapocalyptic America and the darkest desires of her heart in order to uncover the means—and a reason—for humanity's survival.

Dan Wells extends his richly imagined, gritty world and introduces new memorable characters in this second installment in the Partials Sequence.

My Review

Author: Dan Wells
Publication Date: February 26 2013
Pages: 576
Source: Library

Dan Wells' writing style, something I didn't have too much of a problem with in Partials, irritated me in Fragments. It is needlessly long because it is full of unnecessary explanations. 

Let's say that Kira, the main character, is alone in the strange hallway of a desecrated building. She is about to walk into the room. The reader knows Kira has not been here before and she is on a hunt. The reader knows that either the room will have what Kira wants, or not. The reader knows the consequences of both. The reader knows the importance of finding this thing, and the reader should have some sense of how likely it is that this thing will be in this room. This is all especially true if this is the main plot of Kira's story thus far. 

Dan Wells wrote every single one of these things, and it really burdened his writing because so much of this was completely unnecessary. An author should trust the reader to keep up, to some extent. Some mentioning of the stakes are valuable, but it should be more subtle, because I felt like I was being bludgeoned by the "obvious hammer" with paragraphs of explanations that added nothing to the story. Maybe, there would be a simple line of character development through that, but I felt what was really weird was that Wells would later write about the characters being in emotional distress, and I would suppose that this is the moment where he should overexplain and talk about the characters' feelings and maybe write about how they were feeling, and instead we get a simple line of "Kira was sobbing" or something, and the story would end. 

This writing style made so little sense to me because I cared about why Kira felt the need to sob, and whether she was a heavy crier, and I already knew just how imperative it was to find whatever she was looking for. The argument against sci-fi books are that they are too inaccessible, and it's hard to keep up with the storyline. Maybe Wells was trying to make his book easier to understand, but what he did detracted from his fascinating world building and story because it was the equivalent of what they tell us to do in business class presentations: say you're going to say something, say it, and then say what you said. It's the holding your hand approach to writing, and maybe that works for some readers, but it was too much for me. 

The plot is attractive. And yet the book is almost 600 pages. Almost 600 pages, and very little happens because of this convoluted writing style. I have nothing against the length of a book because I usually love it. The author can offer a more complete story, but I think Fragments was unnecessarily wordy, and that was frustrating.

Perhaps Fragments also suffers from middle book syndrome in the sense that it's all building up to one reveal, and reveal is pretty cool, but the journey there is not that interesting. Still, the ending does set up the next book nicely, and I will still read the sequel. 

Another interesting aspect were the morality questions. I liked that Dan Wells challenged the reader and his characters to make tough decisions. While reading Fragments, I was firmly on the side of Team Human, but I remember seriously pondering the lines I would cross and wouldn't cross for humanity. It's quite obvious that Dan Wells is a smart dude who likes to include big questions in his writing, and his writing is full of good ideas. I just generally felt like the style of Fragments was too much of a drag. It's tough to balance the line between storytelling and explanation, and I didn't have any problem with Partials, so I'm hoping Ruins works for me. 



What do you think?