I had heard both positive and negative reviews of A Fraction of the Whole prior to reading it. The negative seemed to be concerned mainly with the length of the book, claiming that it was overwritten. The positive reviews raved about the writing, the characterization and the structure of the novel. I thought I had better hurry up and read it, before my thoughts on this novel were hampered by everyone else’s opinion.
At 711 pages long, there is no question that A Fraction of the Whole is a lengthy read. I personally enjoy reading long books so this wasn’t an issue for me, but it is easy to understand how a book of this magnitude may appear daunting to some. As for the critics who complain about it being overwritten: I won’t lie – it did feel as though the book had to drag the reader forward in certain places, and the characters grew tiresome from time to time. But on the whole, I found myself roaring through A Fraction of the Whole, often looking up and thinking, ‘I read how many pages just then? But I swear, it feels like I’ve barely finished two!’
As far as writing, characterization and structure goes, A Fraction of the Whole is flawless. The characters are so vivid, it feels as though you are actually having a conversation with some totally insane, yet utterly likable people. A book of this length runs the risk of becoming dull and losing the attention of its readers after a period of time; however A Fraction of the Whole solves this problem by putting forward different perspectives throughout the novel, primarily those of the eccentric Martin Dean and his equally wacky son, Jasper. Structurally, this novel is separated into seven parts, each detailing an important event, or series of interlinking events, in the life of Martin and/or Jasper Dean. Although not chronological, this structure holds the novel together well, with each part being unlike the part which came before it, thereby holding the reader’s attention.