Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book review: Partials by Dan Wells

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulsepounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

If I had known that this book was the start of a series, I would not have read it... Because it's so freaking good! With only a prequel out, and the next book in the sequence coming out in February, I'm kicking myself in the butt for falling for another series. Problem is, I'm a very impatient person, and after reading this book there are still so many questions that were left unanswered, and many more that appeared near the end.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the well fleshed-out world that this book takes place in. The book takes place in post-apocalyptic America, in what was Long Island. The last remaining humans live there, and, due to an engineered virus called RM, every baby both dies within a few days of being both. On the mainland are the Partials, genetically engineered super soldiers who are unfriendly, to say the least. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed the post-apocalyptic thing going on in this book, since I'm not really a fan of it usually, but it was used and mentioned only when necessary. The conflict and focus isn't on how everything is in ruins, and how nature is slowly retaking the abandoned parts of the city, it's about RM, and the race the main character, Kira, is in to find a cure.

Kira is a solid enough character; my only complaint would be that, for a sixteen year old, she's a bit to mature, too knowledgeable for her age. At the start of the story she becomes a medical intern for the only hospital's maternity ward. Yes, in the society she lives in, she would be more quickly educated, but I still an not sure the author can really get away with her being sixteen without a bit of eyebrow raising. The thing is she needs to be sixteen, the story demands that she be sixteen, but I'm not completely sold.

Otherwise, the story is solid, and though I haven't read the prequel yet, the author seems to have thought out the implications of the events that happen in the book. The Partials, in particular, are very well thought out, and I ready appreciated the detail put into how they work and why. The book drags a bit for the first almost half (though the first half isn't boring, and is definitely necessary, it's mundane, and mostly involves showing the reader how the last remains of humanity are living on a day-to-day basis), but once you hit the halfway point things start happening very quickly, and it's becomes worth the extended intro. Remember this is intended to be a series, and needs a solid base with which to work with.

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Apocalyptic
Pages: 480
Writing: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 3/5
Worth the Read?: Definitely, if you're willing to get caught up in a series

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