Book review: Fragment delivers ecological fun



A remote, tiny island in the Pacific teems with unique, aggressive species.  But they aren’t dinosaurs from The Land that Time Forgot; they are distant relatives of mantis shrimp that evolved on a separate track from the rest of the earth in Fragment, a 2009 eco-thriller that is more plausible than a living dinosaur book.  The new species are first discovered by the crew of a reality show called “SeaLife.”  The U.S. Navy takes over because of the risk that the dangerous species could leave the island and destroy continental ecosystems, or hostile regimes could exploit the island to develop biological weapons.

Some reviewers have been critical of the “pseudo-science” in Fragment.  But ask yourself, is the science in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein believable?  How about Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World?  Or Michael Crichton’s Congo?  Those books all stretch science as it was understood in the era of the authors to create a compelling story.

Fragment isn’t in the same league as those classic tales of scientific exploration, but it is an exciting, contemporary story.  The setting of the book, “Henders Island,” is an imaginative place.  The best element of the book is the characters’ struggle to survive in the ominous setting.  Thatcher Redmond, the villain of the book, is fun to hate, and his imperious voice was the highlight Robin Atkin Downes’s narration in the audiobook version.

The U.S. government has several possible ways to deal with the threat of the aggressive species on Henders Island.  Without spoiling the ending, I will just say that I was not a fan of the solution.  That is my number one complaint about the book, but it made for good drama.

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