Author: Dan Wells
Genre: Post-Apocalypse, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 2013
Hardcover: 564 Pages
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?
Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what’s left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira’s journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn’t even know existed.
The second installment in the pulse-pounding Partials saga is the story of the eleventh hour of humanity’s time on Earth, a journey deep into places unknown to discover the means—and even more important, a reason—for our survival.
Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the Partials trilogy.
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): Print book
Why did I read this book: I am a big fan of Dan Wells’ books for both adults and young adults. I fell in love with his John Wayne Cleaver trilogy (as twisted a love affair as that may be), and was delighted when I learned he was entering into post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA territory with Partials (and you bet, I loved that book too). The only reason why I didn’t read Fragments earlier this year was a combination of crazy scheduling, the book’s significant heft, and my laziness at having to secure a copy. Now, with the end of the year rapidly approaching, I *finally* could dive into this book with full abandon.
**WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for book 1 in the series. If you haven’t read Partials and wish to remain unspoiled, look away! You have been warned.**
It has been fifteen years since the war that ended civilization and destroyed humanity. The Partials, a genetically-engineered race of human-looking synthetics, rebelled against their human creators and unleashed the RM virus, wiping out 99% of the human population. The war was brutal, quick, and decisive – the Partials won easily, with the remaining humans isolated to a small enclave on Long Island. Less than two decades later, the legacy of the Partial War is cruelly hammered home when every single newborn child dies of the devastating RM virus. And yet, at the same time, the Partials are dying, too – every model was built with an “expiration date,” a fifteen year life span that ends in efficient, ruthless cellular degeneration.
It is into this world that Kira Walker tries to find a middle ground – though she was raised as a human, Kira has only just discovered that she is a rare new Partial model. And thought Kira has discovered the cure to RM – a pheromone secreted by Partials – she hasn’t found a way to reproduce or synthesize the cure in the laboratory. All Kira knows is that she must seek “the Trust” – a group of corporate ParaGen scientists involved in the creation of Partials – in order to find a way to save the humans unable to reproduce because of RM, and the Partials who will all expire in a few short years. Kira’s quest will take her from the overrun wilds of Manhattan, to the Windy City, to cross the toxic wasteland that is the midwestern United States, to the Rocky Mountains to the west. Aided by rebellious Partials Heron (an espionage model with her own loyalties and agenda) and Sam (who Kira trusts, and who trusts Kira implicitly), the trio sets off on an impossible quest to find answers at the end of the world.
The second book in Dan Wells’ Partials trilogy, Fragments had quite the act to live up to. While Partials set the stage, detailing the apocalypse, Fragments expands that world’s borders and questions its limitations. This is very much a road book, with Kira traveling beyond the sanctuary of Long Island, through a Manhattan reclaimed by nature (and monsters), headed west. I loved the scope of the book, learning more about this post-apocalyptic world, the collapse of structures like buildings and bridges, the climate changes wrought by long burning fires, and so on. (On a side note, did anyone ever watch that History Channel series, Life After People? Fragments has that same haunted, fascinating appeal.)
Beyond atmosphere, Fragments is also a story of revelations for Kira and her past, and the legacy of ParaGen’s mysterious Trust and its experiments. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that the reveals are plenty juicy – and, more importantly, worth the wait. The nature of Partials, the failsafe built into them, the devastation of the human race? All of those questions and loosely connected ideas are addressed in this book. While these broader world-defining strokes are eye-opening and foundational for the series arc, it’s the personal revelations that Kira makes – her birth name, her father’s identity, her nature as a very special kind of Partial – that are truly powerful. Kira’s reaction to this knowledge, to the lies she’s been told since her childhood, are understandably dramatic – she’s confused and hurt, but at her core she’s even more resolved to do the right thing and find a way to undo the legacy of the RM virus and the Partial expiration date. It’s interesting, because one character, the super spy and Partial Heron, constantly pokes at Kira as they make their way west. Heron’s allegiance has always been to the Partials (forget about the weakling, squabbling, idiot humans) and to solving the expiration date problem facing her people – Kira, she sees as a waffling, silly girl that has to “choose a side.” (Heron, of course, is confident that Kira will side with her fellow Partials.) The beauty of Kira as a character, however, is that she is the embodiment of finding another way – neither solely human nor solely Partial, Kira’s resolve is to save everyone or no one at all. And that, dear friends, is awe-inspiring, fist-pump with glee, awesome.
Beyond just Kira, we’re (re)introduced to a few other main characters – the Partial soldier and defector Sam, who struggles with his burgeoning emotions for Kira; Heron, espionage agent who is fiercely dedicated to her cause; Afa, a human that has somehow survived the end of the world on his own in Manhattan but at terrible cost; and of course Marcus, Kira’s (former?) boyfriend back on Long Island. Fragments fleshes out (no pun intended) secondary characters to a greater degree – Sam and Heron, in particular – although I confess that I found myself a little bored and impatient with the occasional flashes to Marcus and the developments over at the human outpost on Long Island (yes, it’s necessary for the story, but Marcus is such a pushover). While these plot developments are vital for the progression of the trilogy, the human squabbling and skirmishes with invading Partials simply aren’t as interesting as Kira and Sam, Afa and Heron’s trek westward.
And, while I’ve sung Fragments‘ praises, the book isn’t perfect by a long shot. It’s written well with plenty of delicious plot developments – but it’s clearly a middle book (literally, a bridge book). Ringing in at nearly 600 pages, this is a hefty read with lots of slow-building exposition, and some readers will doubtless be frustrated with the pace and arduously long road trip for Kira and company. That said, I think there’s more than enough emotional and world-defining payoff here to make the long journey worth it. Plus, with that dramatic ending, I’m very eager to see what happens next! Absolutely recommended for the dystopian fan – especially the fan that appreciates the slow play.
Notable Quotes/Parts: You can read the first 114 pages of the book HERE.
Rating: 7 – Very Good
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