Fragments by Dan Wells

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“She had come to Denver looking for answers, a plan, any sort of hope that she was part of something larger, something that could save both humans and Partials. But that plan had gone wrong long ago, and she was nothing. A failed experiment. She’d dedicated her life to saving the world, but now she realized that dedicating her life wasn’t enough. She had to give it.”

Dan Wells’ Fragments continues the story of Kira and the next chapter of the growing war between humans and Partials as both species face their own extermination. I was pleasantly surprised with Partials and so when the second installment came out I was eager to read it as soon as possible. Thankfully, I can safely say that I found Fragments even better then the first and Wells has done a great job in creating new twists and extending the complexity of his characters and the world they are struggling in.

In the first book we are introduced to Kira, a young medic who is attempting to find the cure to the disease that causes all newborns to die a few days after their birth. Their salvation is ultimately found in the beings called Partials, genetically engineered human-machines that were created to fight human wars and whom ultimately turned on their masters and, along with the RM plague, caused the downfall of the human race. When the humans capture a partial soldier named Samm, Kira is directed to study his biology for a cure and discovers a truth about herself that shatters her identity. In Fragments we learn that Kira has commenced a journey to discover more about herself and ParaGen, the company that created the Partials and RM. This endeavor takes her, Samm, another Partial named Heron and a mentally damaged ex-ParaGen technician named Afa across North America, which has turned into a deadly wasteland full of unknown dangers.  Her journey is made even more imperative as the Partials are also facing extinction due to an expiration date that has been programmed into them and as a result, are waging war against her home community on Long Island in an effort to find a cure for themselves. Kira finds herself trapped in the middle, feeling responsible to save both races that she now has a personal attachment to.

I’m a sucker for an adventure novel and Dan Wells has provided just that with Fragments. Whereas the plot for the first book takes place mostly within the geographical sphere of one location, Kira and her small entourage make a substantial expedition in their quest for knowledge. Not only was it impressive distance wise but I felt Wells did a great job of putting in some truly creative dangers (bio-engineered dogs that can mimic human speech being the foremost that jumps to mind) and I was eager to see how he would describe the next city they encountered. Wells’ realistic portrayal of how nature reclaimed cities and man-made structures, small or large, when humans were no longer there to hold it back was extremely convincing and I considered it a highlight of the novel. In many ways the forgotten and unused formations of human civilization became the greatest dangers of all.

The characters also gained even more depth in this second literary round. I personally came to despise Heron and admire Samm, and while the character of Marcus annoyed me to some degree I recognize his usefulness as a tool to tell the story of what was happening to the human community on Long Island after Kira’s departure. As expected, it is Kira who develops the most. She suffers the most severe identity crisis, torn between loyalty and the desire to save two populations that are effectively destroying one another. Through this struggle Wells plants the discussion of equality firmly at the forefront of his book, along with other morality issues that commonly creep up in real world issues, but without so much force that the reader feels overwhelmed by the serious nature of the dilemmas.

I enjoyed Partials, but I have to admit I enjoyed Fragments even more. The story is jammed full with science, adventure, technology, and the underlying question of what it means to be human and what decisions are right, or wrong, to make. Wells’ kept the momentum climbing all the way through Fragments, making it a thoroughly enjoyable read. Fingers crossed that it continues to climb with a third book, which when keeping Fragments’ conclusion in mind, is no doubt on the way!

Devon – athousandbooklife

Other books by Dan Wells: Mr. Monster (2010), I Am Not a Serial Killer (2010), I Don’t Want to Kill You (2011) and Partials (2012)

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