Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You could have it so much better

So I was pretty excited for Warren Fahy Fragment, a heavily promoted novel about a lost island with a divergent ecosystem, said to be in the spirit of Jurassic Park and the Ruins. Well I read it, and it isn't like those books. Let's start with the Ruins. That book is, I think falsely, viewed as a thriller. Like Smith's only other book, the amazing A Simple Plan, the book is a rich study of torment, both emotional and physical. Fragment is many things, but it is not strong on emotions or characters. The death toll has no apparent impact on the characters other than to make them grimly determined. The book's two rivals, meant to portray different versions of science, are laughably stereotypical, one angelic and one eeeeeeevviilllll.

The comparison to Jurassic Park is also inapt. Crichton always (after Andromeda Strain, at least) put story before science. He let it support and ground the story, but not derail it. Fahy just loves his material too much. He provides paragraph after paragraph of example, theory and idea. The examples are the worst, where one might suffice, he is happy to provide five. He also chops up the action with a bit too much description of the monsters.

When it comes time to tell the story, the book works pretty well. The set-up is great as a reality show science expedition stumbles onto the Lost World, a violent ecosystem similar to that in the Skinner. We get a pair of redshirt holocausts, political infighting and a number of imaginative horrors. The book shifts from adventure mode to political thriller as changed viewpoints lead the surviving characters in a race against time.

If this were a movie (and I am sure it will be), I would say you should Netflix it. As it is, head down to the library for this one. I tore through it, but my pleasure decayed as the book continued. I hope the next one is better.


Rose City Reader said...

This is a terrific review because I read the whole thing even though this it is about a book I would never read in a million years. Well done.

Tripp said...

Hey thanks!