I received an ARC of Fragment from Random House through Shelf Awareness. This book was touted as the next Jurassic Park or The Ruins. I have not read The Ruins, but I did read Jurassic Park (many years ago now) and devoured it! I LOVED the mix of adventure, science, suspense and Crichton's good writing. After that, I read all of Crichton's earlier works. So I was really looking forward to delving into a scientific thriller.
The book opens on a boat filled with scientists and a camera crew recording a reality show that takes the scientists to various islands looking for new species. When they come across an island only mentioned once in all of history and completely uninhabited, the scientists are excited to check it out. Once ashore, they discover a crazy world left to evolve without any human contact whatsoever. Darwin gone completely crazy! There are plants that are actually animals. Every species on the island seems to be a predator. The opening of the book starts with quite a bang and continues on that front throughout. It doesn't really slow down, except for the lengthy scientific descriptions throughout the book.
The overall premise of the book is fantastic. The prologue of the book provides a brief history of alien species invading islands and taking over or causing other species to go extinct. Alien as in foreign not extraterrestrial. I actually found this information just as intriguing as the novel. It set up the book quite nicely. This is Fahy's first novel and it's relatively well done. I say relatively because I think there was good and bad. Fahy has a fantastic imagination. The descriptions of the island, its animals and environment were spot-on. The back of the book contains a map of the island and sketches of some of the species found on the island. I found my vision of the animals from the text was quite close to the sketches provided. It takes a incredible amount of imagination for Fahy to create the island that he did.
The title is apt in that it not only describes the island as an isolated fragment of a supercontinent long ago, but also the writing style. Short chapters that jump around between characters and places. This eemed very disjointed and bugged me through the first 2/3rds of the book. The last 1/3rd really picked up and ended quite interestingly. I was satisfied with the ending and that made up for some of my annoyance in the beginning of the book. Some of the lengthy scientific descriptions got a little tedious, but not overwhelming.
Overall, this is a fun book for summer. A good vacation read. And I can definitely see this made into a movie. It is so visual. One of my real problems with the book actually has nothing to do with the author. It was the marketing. This book did not live up to Jurassic Park for me. I definitely can see a comparison to Crichton's work in general, the science-fiction adventure such as Congo comes to mind more than Jurassic Park. I just think that's quite a lot to live up to for a debut novel. This book is receiving nice praise though, check out other reviews at:Thoughts of Joy and The Novel Bookworm. Both glowing reviews.
Fragment became available in bookstores June 16, 2009.