Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fragments (Partials #2) by Dan Wells

Rating: 2.5/5

Something's missing in this series. It's not terribly emotionally engaging, and it really needs to be, because it's long and slowly-paced. I don't mind slowly-paced books, as long as there's interesting tension, relationship and character development, and/or heavy theme exploration. The author's attempts at these things are infrequent and rather shallow. There were a few compelling scenes, but for the most part the dramatics were repetitive and uninspired.  And in between, there was a mountain of bland journeying and world-building, which should have been bleak and desolate and oppressive enough to feel like a dystopia, but somehow wasn't. 

There were too many characters with poor delineation, especially the adults, most of whom seemed little more than plot devices. They just didn't seem fully human. After 500+ pages I didn't feel like I knew the main characters any better than when I met them. 

I can't figure out if the plot is actually quite complicated or if Wells just made it seem that way by being so confusing about it. I think it's the latter. There was lots of unnecessary description and multiple scenes that failed to advance the plot, characters, relationships or even create mood, which they were obviously meant to do. So they just slowed down the pace.

I had some other issues with this book. The kids seemed to have knowledge of some things about they old world they shouldn't, but are completely baffled by other information. Afa was conveniently lucid only when they needed him to be. Heron's constant anger and complaining was repetitive and annoying. The only purpose it served was to create drama where the author needed "an episode" to break up the monotony of cross-country travel. Her behaviour was almost, but not quite, enough of an excuse for why Kira and Sam barely cared where she'd gone and just up and left her behind.  

Putting aside the fact that Kira seems to forget that she has a boyfriend back home, I liked the dynamic between her and Sam, but it didn't develop fast enough for me. Kira's internal dialogue didn't go deep or far enough. It didn't really go anywhere, actually, except in circles. 

Wells' writing style fails to convey much atmosphere or emotion, it is very matter of fact. I thought this was a choice in his John Cleaver series; it worked well for him in the Hollow City too. But it now appears it's just the way he writes, and it doesn't suit a protagonist like Kira who is passionate and emotional. At least that's what I think Wells was aiming for. 

It feels as though the author wrote this book using a recipe, to make sure he had all the proper genre (Young Adult) ingredients, adding the spices (more of the same drama) as needed. The characters are doing what he needs them to do, not what they are driven to do for themselves. 

I did like the moral conundrums in this book, but I wish they'd been dealt with by more introspective characters. Introspection seems to be difficult for Wells to write. This being a trilogy, I will read the next book if only to have a sense of completion. Perhaps the author will surprise me.

See my review of Partials (Partials #1) by Dan Wells

No comments:

Post a Comment