Fragment by Warren Fahy
Though I haven’t written much over the last month, I have been reading constantly. I saw this novel on display at the bookstore when it first came out and immediately wanted to read it. I finally bought it and finished it in a matter of days. If I didn’t work full-time, I might have finished it in a few hours. It’s a fast-paced thriller, and it will definitely draw you in from the first paragraph.
Fragment tells the story of a ship carrying the cast of a reality show about scientists who answer a distress call to a remote island and discover… well, lots of very dangerous things that want to eat them. Hender’s Island is not like any other place on earth, and as they explore, it becomes clear that these species pose a threat to the entire planet. This is Fahy’s first effort at fiction, and I’m definitely curious about his next novel.
In case you’re wondering, Fragment isn’t a remix of Jurassic Park. Fahy’s island is populated by things that are far more frightening and vicious than dinosaurs. His monsters are definitely unique, and the reader is drawn in by the mystery of where these animals came from. Fahy also takes a sarcastic tone in much of the storytelling, and he often has the characters make fun of themselves when the chase scenes or explosions begin to resemble a cheesy movie. Some sections are actually hilarious, especially when the manipulative producer of the reality show tries to create drama. It’s an entertaining read with very creative concepts and good use of popular culture.
However there were a few things I didn’t like. The biggie? Language. There is a lot of language in Fragment. I understand using some foul words when you’re being chased by a monstrous spider/tiger with razor-sharp teeth, and I know that in Hollywood people curse like sailors. It may have fit a character or two to scream obscenities over and over, but it ruined a good chunk of the novel for me.
I also got sick of the discussions of evolution and scientific theory. Many of those scenes felt like contrived “plot exposition.” It’s also hard to make long arguments about scientific details interesting. Even Crichton didn’t always manage that, and Fahy has some work to do before he matches Crichton.
Last, character development was weak. The characters were distinctive enough to remain separate in my mind, but not “round” enough for me to care about them. This was partially saved by the tongue-in-cheek writing style and by reminders that the characters are the cast of a reality show. After all, have you ever taken a reality show seriously?
In conclusion, if you can survive a lot of language and you love Michael Crichton, Fragment is a good summer read. Be prepared for some nasty monsters. Sometimes I’m tempted to check under my bed for a Hender’s rat…