Publication date : 23rd July 2019
Publisher : Parliament House Press
Series : Fragments #1
RRP : $6.59AUD (ebook)/$15.49USD (paperback)
Blurb: Red compound makes them angry. Yellow exhausts them. Blue drives them into a state of ravenous addiction. The thief Kai knows about the chemically controlled soldiers of the Eastern forces and their savage, deadly nature. When a robbery attempt at Club Seven goes wrong, Kai is captured by a handler and his bestial soldier-boy. She wakes up inside the military base with no idea what happened to her twin brother, Dex.
Things go from bad to worse when Kai is started on a drug and training regimen, and forced to take injections of blue compound. The scientists in charge plan to make her into a working soldier who will mine the mysterious power crystals beneath the desert. Kai becomes a victim of the bully Finn, a handsome but nasty soldier whose years on red compound seem to have erased his humanity. Still, she begins to pity the Seven Soldiers, including the monstrous boy who tried to rip her to shreds at the club. They appear to be nothing more than genetically enhanced, drug-controlled teenagers.
On the outside, Dex and his tech-savvy boyfriend try to crack the soldiers’ chemical code to find a weakness that will break the system. But Kai has already been drawn deep into her new world. Strong feelings for the soldiers she’s come to know have started to cloud her judgment. Can she escape and find Dex without becoming a monster herself?
So, this is a small title that I feel like has flown under so many peoples radars and it shouldn’t have. It’s the story of genetically engineered teenagers on a world which you later find out is post-Earth (this is not a spoiler people. Don’t at me.) and while the premise is a little eh, its actually really good. I have never seen this anywhere on bookstagram or book twitter and I am absolutely flabbergasted as to why.
So, you have a group of teens who have ended up in a ?government run encampment for what the people call the Seven Soldiers – basically they are meant to embody of characteristics of the seven deadly sins. So you have Kai, a teen who was taken from the streets when she tried to steal a piece of cake, Tessa who was engineered and is a ‘C’ type soldier (shes incredibly smart), Finn is a ‘B’ type and was taken from his parents for his insane speed and Charlie is an ‘A’ type meaning he is the brawn, forced into a mindless thug on his days at work. So, these teens get injected with a serum at various times to keep them under control and force them to perform their tasks. The majority live on ‘cardboard bars’, a nutritional supplement bar that tastes like, well, cardboard. When he is on duty however, Charlie is fed real food and kept under control with his addiction to alcohol. Basically, they are all mind controlled, plebs for the Eastern Forces and they have no choice in how they live their lives.
‘I’ve seen it’ you say. This is a title that feels like its going to be one thing but turns out to be another. It has the usual ‘girl gets nabbed and put through testing, determined to break out of containment’ but then its got a little spark of something that I can’t quite pin down. There’s something kind of wholesome about the whole ordeal. All the main characters have two distinct personalities, one while they are working while there’s another one at home; usually I’m a little undecided about redeeming features and whatnot but this just feels good. There’s conflict and adventure, all within the confined walls of an institution.
Now, yes, there is a love interest. There is actual multiple love interests. But they are not nauseating and I silently squeed at the end when no one had made me want to hurl (kudos Auerbach!). The relationships feel natural, one being established, while the other is a slow burn changing of point of view. There are no gushy moments that feel out of place, only heartfelt interactions that melted my ice-encrusted heart.
If you are planning on reading this novel, let me warn you now, nobody is who you think they are. The final 20% revealed the real big bad and I was a little taken aback. I should have seen it coming, but alas I was so into the story that I completely didn’t get suspicious until bad things started happening from a source that I didn’t suspect. And the final turn of events with a certain lovable character made me angry in that good way which comes with a meaty narrative.
Basically, I really enjoyed this book. It didn’t drag and the action was well paced. The characters all had well rounded and individual personalities which halle-freaking-lujah. The ‘big bad’ didn’t get their reveal until late in the piece but there are enough characters and corporations to hate that I didn’t actually see it coming. The romance is relatable not at all obnoxious, taking a path that felt logical and natural. Overall it was a well rounded and punchy story that, while told before, has a unique point of view that I found refreshing.
Until next time lovelies xo