Fragile | Critical Book Review

Alexa Weik von Mossner’s Fragile presents itself as a near-future dystopian tale set in a desolate New York, ravaged by the merciless consequences of climate change. This indie climate fiction novel delves into a world on the brink of collapse, offering a glimpse into a grim future where humanity’s survival hangs by a thread. In this critical review, we dissect the strengths and weaknesses of von Mossner’s vision.

A Bleak World Defined by Climate Collapse

Fragile thrusts readers into a nightmarish version of New York City, where the looming specter of climate catastrophe permeates every facet of life. The city is partially submerged, its once-bustling airport reduced to “flooded runways” following the devastating Hurricane Shelby. Mossner’s grim portrayal extends to nature itself, with heat-scorched maple trees and unnaturally vivid sunrises, courtesy of desperate attempts to manipulate the atmosphere.

A Desperate Struggle for Survival

Within this dystopian hellscape, the characters are forced to adapt to dire circumstances. Jake, the protagonist, toils in the perilous world of antibiotic imports, under the jurisdiction of the SAFE centers, established as a response to a nationwide antibiotic crisis. The scarcity of antibiotics has brought an end to industrial livestock, leading citizens to resort to the grim consumption of mystery meat from the underground market.

Shavir, another central character, takes a morally driven path, raiding illegal puppy mills to rescue dogs destined for a gruesome fate. Yet, even finding these rescued dogs a home becomes an uphill battle due to exorbitant licensing fees. Fragile revolves around the evolving relationship between Jake and Shavir, highlighting the intricate dance of compassion and survival in a world where trust is a rare commodity.

Technology and Its Dystopian Allure

Mossner introduces an intriguing technological facet to her narrative with the concept of the Spine, a smartphone implanted within the neck. It offers users seamless communication and entertainment, albeit at the cost of perpetual surveillance. While some characters embrace the Spine as a way of life, others resist its intrusive grip, questioning its true value in a world teetering on the edge of collapse.

The Dark Lure of Emovia

In this grim future, self-medication takes on a dangerous twist, with Emovia emerging as a perilous drug of choice. It provides an emotional high but ultimately leads to the ruin of lives. Fragile raises the haunting question of what could befall the city if Emovia’s supply ever dwindles.

Compassion Amidst Chaos

At its core, Fragile is a testament to the human capacity for compassion in the face of adversity. The characters, despite their technologically modified existence and harsh surroundings, remain relatable and empathetic. Their struggles resonate with the reader, drawing parallels to the challenges of our own time.

Three Provocative Themes

Mossner’s narrative leaves readers pondering three thought-provoking themes. Firstly, it underscores the tendency of individuals to patch structural problems, often with mixed success. Secondly, it suggests that our perception of close relationships might be a reflection of larger societal issues, and vice versa. Lastly, it challenges the notion that we require external technology to find our inner strength; the capacity to effect change lies within us.

Conclusion

Fragile offers a captivating portrayal of a dying world paradoxically coming to life within its pages. Mossner’s storytelling transports us to a bleak future that resonates with contemporary anxieties and uncertainties. While the novel’s worldbuilding is commendable, some may find its bleakness overwhelming. Nevertheless, Fragile is a compelling exploration of resilience, compassion, and the human spirit in the face of impending catastrophe, posing questions that echo in the corridors of our own troubled times.

Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia / Environment

Print Length: 330 pages

ISBN: 978-3982496917

Alexa Weik von Mossner’s Fragile presents itself as a near-future dystopian tale set in a desolate New York, ravaged by the merciless consequences of climate change. This indie climate fiction novel delves into a world on the brink of collapse, offering a glimpse into a grim future where humanity’s survival hangs by a thread. In…