"Fragments" by Dan Wells is the second book in the "Partials" series. "Partials" was the first book about a time in the future when most of the human race is destroyed by a virus contracted from the "Partials," biologically engineered beings who are basically identical to humans with some important differences.
Partials have heightened senses -- hearing and vision -- and they are superior physically to humans. They also don't express emotions as humans do. They "link" to each other, and that's how they understand other Partials' emotions. Before the virus decimated the human population, Partials were treated as second-class citizens. That triggered a war, during which time the virus was also triggered.
The human population that remains, those who are immune to the virus, find that any children born to them die from the virus within a few hours. Even though hundreds of babies have been born, not one has survived. In the first book, Kira, the main character, manages to find a solution for this problem and is able to inject a few babies with the cure. They survive.
In the second book, we learn that the humans have been unable to recreate the cure. Babies are still dying. Marcus, Kira's boyfriend, is a medic and has been working on it to no avail. Kira is trying to solve the mystery surrounding the virus and the cure, and she has entered enemy territory to do so.
The world is on the brink of another war. Partials with different agendas are fighting each other, and one faction is also fighting the humans. Kira, Samm (a Partial she befriended in the first book), and two companions travel through wasteland to try to find the answers. ParaGen, the company that made billions creating the Partial soldiers, doctors and generals, has offices in Chicago and its headquarters in Denver. The answer might be in their offices.
Wells tells the story in third person narrative from several points of view. Usually, the reader hears Kira's point of view as well as Marcus's, but occasionally the narrative shifts to Ariel, Kira's foster sister, and Samm, the Partial who is Kira's friend.
There is action throughout the book -- nonstop action, actually. Either the characters are in the middle of the fighting, running from soldiers, or they are trying to travel through dangerous, chemical-laden landscapes. Getting caught in a rain shower is deadly.
Wells manages to keep the twists coming, making this a difficult book to put down. There is also a bit of romantic intrigue. The ending is a cliff hanger of sorts, so readers will be anxiously waiting for the next installation.
What Wells does well, he does really well. In their exuberance to tell the story, some writers spoon-feed the readers everything. Wells is a master at showing, not telling. The reader knows what the characters are feeling through well-written dialogue and careful descriptions. It all just makes the book more gripping.
Wells also brings up themes of class (caste) in society. The Partials are symbols of "The Others" throughout history who have been oppressed and who had to struggle to obtain equality. The book also touches on the subject of what is done in the name of profit. Those who created the virus, the Partials, and other bio-engineered creatures suffer from unabated greed. They would do anything to reap the profits from their creations.
This series would be an excellent choice for a reluctant reader -- but really, kids and adults alike will enjoy the thrills, the characters, and the excitement of this series.
Please note: This review is based on the advance review copy provided by the publisher, Balzer + Bray, for review purposes.
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