It's been a few months since the events depicted in Fragment and the survivors who escaped from Henders Island as well as the human race in general are struggling to adjust. It hasn’t been easy for anyone. The “Hendros” are quarantined in Area 51 for their protection while the world argues as to their status. What it now means to be human is just one of the many issues facing mankind on the wake of the discovery of this separated evolutionary tangent. Henders Island no longer exists, but for Biologist Hell Binswanger the nightmares of what happened there have not gone away as she is troubled by post-traumatic stress disorder.
Her new husband and fellow Biologist Geoffrey Binswanger is doing his best to help her adjust back to the real world and put the trauma behind her. Their plans for a honeymoon away from the constant Secret Service protection and the prying eyes of the media go astray when they meet a wealthy Russian by the name of Maxim Dragolovich. A legendary Russian Oligarch, he wants their help and will pay 2 million dollars-- each -- for their expertise for several weeks work. He wants them to take a look at some possibly previously undiscovered species somewhere in Kaziristan. When the money proves not to be enough of an enticement, he shows them a sample jar containing a living specimen unlike anything they have ever seen before.
Nell and Geoffrey agree and before long they are far from home and outside contact as they are deep underground in a vast subterranean city in the former Soviet Republic. They are certainly not alone as the promised creatures are there along with fellow scientists that were involved with Henders Island. So too are the creatures from Henders Island as some managed to escape and have been deliberately brought alive to this underground city first constructed during Stalin's time. As the aging city systems begin to collapse and outside forces move against them, the battle begins again to save the planet from a future where mankind is overrun and eliminated as the weakest link in the food chain.
While the first book was weakened by stereotypes and two laughable plot twists at the end such is not the case here. A fitting sequel that is stronger than the original, Fragment is a good book could be read as a stand-alone though it would be better to have read the first book. Certain relationships between various characters continue to evolve here as do some of the dynamics first seen in the previous book. Things are set into motion there that are ultimately resolved here in a book that gets wilder and wilder as it chews and kills its way to the end.
This is primarily a science fiction thriller and as such character development remains very limited. Most of the characters returning from the last book are not developed further- with a couple notable exceptions that can't be mentioned without ruining the read. The primary character development in this novel is with Maxim and his precocious daughter, Sasha, who becomes a major character by the end of this read. Building on Fragment author Warren Fahy takes readers deep underground into a biological hell in Pandemonium. The result is an intense thriller that works on every level and proves the accuracy of the blurb on the front of the book from the Wall Street Journal- “’Think Jurassic Park but scarier.’”
Tor (Tom Doherty Associates)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2013
Mind Slices and Carpathian Shadows, Volume II
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