106. Fragment (Warren Fahy)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
What a load of garbage. Warren Fahy's Fragment has to be one the absolute worst novels I have ever read. I'm actually stunned that this got published and even more stunned that it is going to be turned into a movie. Why is it garbage, you ask? Here's my summary...

A reality series, SeaLife, is shooting aboard a research vessel full of scientists, travelling around the world on a year long adventure. They encounter a distress signal coming from a previously unexplored island and head off to investigate. Within moments of stepping ashore, all but two of the party are killed - on live TV. Turns out, the island's ecosystem has evolved independently of the rest of the planet for hundreds of thousands of years, resulting in blood sucking plants, giant spider-like creatures, and ants that'll eat a human body in a matter of minutes. The US government surrounds the island with warships and sends in another group of scientists (including the two survivors) to investigate an island and they soon realize that every species is a perfect killing machine. The President decides to nuke the entire island into oblivion to prevent any from escaping and wreaking havoc on the rest of the planet. Only problem? The science team has discovered intelligent life and will do anything to save them - provided they can make it off the island alive.

Doesn't sound too bad, right? I thought so too until I started reading it. Fahy's writing is a Jekyl and Hyde. At times, his style is overly simplistic and filled with too much detail. Is it really that important that you mentioned one character's Indiglo watch 16 million times? We get it! His watchface glows. And then suddenly he switches to a six page debate between two rival scientists having an overly scientific debate on opposite theories of evolution. Back and forth, back and forth. It probably wouldn't be nearly as bad if he hadn't written so technically. The scientific portions of his book are too "science-y" for your average reader. Its great that Fahy has done his homework but if I wanted to take a course in marine biology, botany, or geology, I'd contact a university.

There were numerous times throughout the book where I was oh-so-tempted to throw this book in trash but I struggled on. There were the numerous times that one character or another suggested all the species on the planet developed from shrimp ancestors and the descriptions of some of them made me think of the prawn-like aliens from District 9. Or when the scientists ended up inside the fuselage of an old WWII bomber used as shelter by the intelligent creatures they encounter and they sit down on what appears to be the raft from Amelia Earhart's missing plane. Or the biggie - when the scientists encounter the human-like creatures and they start talking like an updated, non-Jamaican version of Jar-Jar Binks. Oh yes, its true. And the artwork for the creatures on the author's website re-enforced that vision.

This book was horrible. Nothing new here; we've all read better novels or watched smarter films with a similar storyline. The ending is predictable and cheesy. The one small glimmer of light was a quick Aliens reference early on. In fact, I was hoping and praying that, when the President gave the order to vaporize the island, he would have said "I say we nuke the site from orbit. Its the only way to be sure". Alas, he did not. I have no idea how or why I read the entire thing but I did. All 501 pages. Including illustrations. Bad, cartoonish illustrations.

Its pretty bad when books like The Ruins (which I actually enjoyed) are better than this mess. James Rollins called Fragment "Jurassic Park on steroids". I may not find his books believable and often ask myself after reading one, Why Do I Read This Crap, but his books are at least fairly well written. Skip this book. Don't read it. Don't watch the film version if, god forbid, it ever gets released. If you see a copy of this book on the shelf, burn it.

Warren Fahy - you owe me $9.99 CDN plus GST and 4 days of my life I'll never get back.

12 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

Wow, what awesome scathingness! You go girl! I will be sure to avoid this, but man, you got a great review out of it, so it's not all lost, right? Right?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You rip that book a new one! Sounds like utter drek. I have no idea how you managed to keep reading.

Rena said...

I agree, more or less. I liked the book's ideas, but I was very impatient with the writer's refusal to make this a First Contact novel. (Basically, I liked the "hendropods" a lot, and felt they could have been very interesting, but instead, we get a Jurassic Park ripoff.)

Antania said...

Although I can sympathise that the average reader, looking for nothing but a good story line, will find this book tediously technical and probably difficult to follow (without a dictionary or encyclopaedia). I would disgaree with the majority of your summation.

I found that my own “nerdy” intellect enjoyed the challenging debates and scientifically accurate information that the book provided. These “over scientific” discussions embedded throughout the novel established plausible explanation on the origins and existence of the ecosystem - though farfetched. The novel allowed for an internal debate of the readers own ideologies and understandings of life (probably not the best book for religious zealots). Apart from the general scientific theologies and information the novel also provided a sense of ethical conundrums which wrestled with the morality of human curiosity and actions within our own environment, which is ultimately where the book ended.

No doubt the sequel “Pandemonium” will explore the more ethical and moral aspect of scientific curiosity. Overall, I would agree that this is not a book for the average reader, however I would recommend this to any sci-fi fans who enjoy a technically challenging novel (for fun).

Mike said...

This was one of the best books by far i have ever read and reading your review of it, makes me want to go back in time and strangle the life out of you before you get a chance to write this. Like the one person said, this is obviously a book for people who are smart and obviously you are not smart. And i can't wait for the movie to come out as well as the sequel.

Alun said...

I think you underestimate its appeal Mike. It sounds like the book can appeal to fools too.

S.M. Elliott said...

I like a good science-packed novel, but this sounds idiotic. Lost worlds like Conan Doyle's don't work in today's fiction.

TicTac said...

I think it is very telling for you to admit you were not intelligent enough to understand or enjoy the scientific parts of this book. You also seem to be professing a lack of imagination when it comes to the missing bits of human history landing on this otherwise untouched island. It was not a perfect book, but it was very creative, well-researched, (mostly) well-written, and very entertaining. I hope your lack of imagination or intelligence doesn't keep others from even opening it to see for themselves.

Karen said...

TicTac, I just re-read my review and I don't see where I admitted to not being intelligent enough to enjoy this. I did call it "too science-y" for your average reader but I never claimed to be average. Trust me, I grasped the scientific arguments quite well. If you were as intelligent as you and Mike seem to be claiming you are, you wouldn't have to resort to insulting people with a dissenting* opinion.

However Fahy's book was far from "creative" - its a recycled, poorer, more comical version of a familiar, often duplicated storyline.

*In case that word is too big for you, it means an opinion that's different from your own.

Jack said...

I really liked this book, and I cannot see for the life of me why you're ripping it up so much. The scientific arguments were relatively easy to grasp if you took the time to think about it. You're ripping up the book for its lack of creativity, but the creatures are well designed and the plot differs from Jurassic Park. True, the book has its downsides, but more or less it was an enjoyable read.

Thomas said...

I absolutely agree with Mike. I'm 16 years old, I read this book three times, i'm french canadian and despite all of that I LOVED this book. Why you would ask? Because it is new. It was awesome and everybody should read about it because there are a lot of interesting facts in this book. A lot. Also, this book is for interested people, read if you like it. Don't read it if you hate it.
Finally, this book is simply awesome and deserve recognition.
Thank you.

Kate Jones said...

Fragment by Warren Fahy is a spell-binding thriller from beginning to end. Proof: even a reviewer who absolutely hated it could not put it down till she had read the whole thing.

I absolutely loved this book--brilliantly conceived and original (no, it is not the same as other prehistoric monster stories), thoroughly researched, scientifically authentic (I especially love that part), and philosophically profound. Maybe that's why Karen scorned it. She is, after all, 40 feet tall and wants to take over the world.

And maybe she is not used to such a robust literary style. For my money this book read so vividly that I felt I was actually watching a movie.

I'm looking forward to seeing the actual film. It will be a challenge to translate the grandeur of this story and its visual effects to the screen.

I would respectfully suggest that a reviewer correctly represent the derogatory comments as her opinion, not as statements of fact. Garbage is in the taste of the consumer.

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