Friday, July 24, 2009

Quickie Review -- Fragment

I was going to review Warren Fahy's "Fragment" in my last San Francisco Chronicle column, but I ran out of both space and interest.
This first novel is a Michael Crichton-esque scientific thriller about a mysterious island in the South Pacific that's actually a fragment of a lost continent. Cut off from the rest of the world's on-going process of natural selection for half a billion years, Henders Island is home to bizarre and super-lethal lifeforms that would chew through the rest of the planet's eco-system in nothing flat. And guess what's headed right toward Henders? That's right, a TV reality show crew!

There are, of course, human characters in "Fragment," but none of them are particularly compelling and some of them make no damn sense at all, so I'm not going to bother to list them. The real attraction is, of course, the monsters, and Fahy does a fine job of concocting some truly wild evolutionary throwbacks and developing action sequences around them. I don't know whether the biology lectures he uses as exposition are a bunch of hooey, but they work well enough dramatically.
"Fragment" seems to have aspirations to be this decade's "Jurassic Park." It's not up to that challenge, but it might be a welcome diversion for a dreary day at the seashore.

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