Author: Dan Wells
Series: Partials #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence–it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?
I am so excited to report that Fragments was every bit as good as Partials. In fact, some of the elements were even stronger. The plot was dynamic and suspenseful, the world building was thorough and epic, and the plot advancement has left me staggering a bit. All this wrapped into a beautifully written package. I liked this one so much I can’t imagine the final book in the trilogy being anything less than spectacular. At this point, the only thing I don’t like is that I will have to wait at least a year to find out what happens next.
Story: There were so many good elements of storytelling in this book! It’s like the author sat down with every scene and thought “how can I make this better?” But asking the question is only half the battle. Not only do you have to know what elements make for a great story, you also have to have the creativity to make it your own. Because Wells has these skills in abundance, we end up with a clever plot that surprised me at every turn. Many elements didn’t go the way I expected them to… they were better. And oddly, it’s not the main arc of the story but rather minor details in a scene that held the most surprise for me. Something about his careful attention to even the most minor story elements kept me incredibly invested in the story and eager for more.
I’ve heard a lot of dystopian readers comment that they like books like Matched and Delirium, but missed that “edge” regarding corrupt government, harsh living conditions, and basic need for survival that made Hunger Games so hard-core. Well, this book has all of those things in abundance! It’s definitely not a “fluffy” book, focusing more on events and story than relationships.
Writing: I often criticize writers for having too many viewpoint characters in a story. Not only does it give your reader permission to lose attention but it also makes it difficult to get emotionally involved with any one character. After reading Fragments, I think I know why Wells was able to pull it off when so many others could not. First of all, almost the entire first book was written in Kira’s perspective which allowed readers to become fully grounded in one story. Second of all, although the perspective changes a lot in this book, each viewpoint character was working towards the same overall goal. Finally, each perspective switch usually provided the reader plot-advancing information essential for moving forward with the overall arc of the story.
I applaud Wells for creating a suspenseful, nail-biting novel without introducing even an ounce of false tension. He’s so good at bringing the action to life and making me feel the heat of the moment that I literally held my breath through certain passages. I found it so absorbing that I completely forgot to take notes for this post until almost halfway through the book (as I did with the first one). This goes along with great pacing of the story, which I highlighted in my review of Partials but won’t delve too much into here. Suffice to say it was very well done.
Characterization: I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I thought certain elements of this book were better than the first one. All of those elements have to do with characterization. Where the first book contain characters that were mostly vehicles to get from one event to the next, this one expanded on those characters giving them much richer personalities and internal conflicts. It delved me deeper into the story, if possible, and made me a lot more emotionally invested. Wells achieved a lot of this through excellent dialogue. There were a number of great verbal exchanges and conversations that reinforce personality without ever feeling forced. If I could to capture even a fraction of those exchanges in my own writing, I would be one happy camper. On another note, this is probably one of the slowest developing love stories I’ve ever read in a teen book, and you know what? I’m loving it, because it feels incredibly organic.
World Building: Wells has obviously done a lot of research on what a post-apocalyptic America would look like, and believe me, he doesn’t tone it down much to make it easier on his characters. His word choice and skill with description create strong images that are almost poetic. It’s beautiful and subtle and quietly brings the world to life. I really don’t have much to say other than it was done well enough that I never had to go reread passages to get a clearer picture.
Overall, I am tickled that Fragments was chosen as April’s selection because I may not have picked it up so quickly otherwise. As book 1 was easily my favorite teen read of 2012, I can say that this one will be a strong contender for my favorite this year too. I love that I don’t have anything critical or negative to say about this book, I absolutely loved it!
Recommendations: While a lot of the dystopian and novels are geared towards the female audience, this is one I would feel confident recommending to men and women. If you mentioned that you are a Hunger Games fan, this is the first book I would show you.
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