Review: Partials by Dan Wells


|468 pages|Published February 28th 2012 |by Balzer + Bray|

Summary: 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.

I’m a geek about the strangest things. Take World-Building for example. Most people I know like a little, enough that they can place the characters, understand the plot and know a few customs/traditions etc. Just “enough”. Me? I like LOTS of world-building. I want to know about laws, buildings, where the characters buy their food, what they do for fun, how they get around. Especially dystopian fiction, I have got to know it all. I figure it’s like those memes I see on Facebook that encourage you to work out so that you can outrun the zombies – I want to know what we’re in for when the Overlords take control! Anyway…after reading *many* dystopian based books that were mediocre at best (They can’t all be The Hunger Games) I was thrilled when I finally got around to Partials by Dan Wells and realised all my boxes would be ticked. Lots of government corruption, politics, laws, crazy rules, fleshed out characters and fascinating plot. #Winning!

Kira Walker is a 16yr old medical intern from Long Island working in a maternity ward where babies live less than three days. 99% of the human population was wiped out after a biological virus called RM was unleashed by the Partials, cybernetic organisms who were created to defeat China in the Isolation War and turned on their creators. Society has managed to scramble together and a Government desperately holding onto power has created The Hope Act; essentially turning women into breeders once they turn 18. Women get pregnant, the babies die and the cycle happens all over again. When rumours begin that the age is being lowered to sixteen, Kira, desperate to save her friends from the heartbreak of losing their children sets out to find a cure for RM once and for all.

I really liked Kira; she’s intelligent, feisty, and loyal. Reminded me a lot of Katniss to be honest. I liked her refusal to accept the status quo and the compassion and love she clearly had for her friends. The secondary characters had enough substance to be noticeable from the beginning and happily were fleshed out as the story went along. They all had distinct personalities and their points of view were understandable from Haru (whom I hated at times) desperate to save his girlfriend and her baby to Xochi who was desperate to be free and young and experience her childhood without being oppressed. The only relationship I didn’t buy was Kira and her boyfriend Marcus. It was tepid at best, I didn’t feel any real passion and I couldn’t care enough to root for them as a couple.

As much as I liked the characters it was the politics I was most interested in. The world post RM is brutal and unkind. In a world with no children, only adults of varying age, The Hope Act is terrifying to even contemplate and throughout the books we clearly see how power breeds corruption. The more stringent the laws, the louder the rumblings from “The Voice” the rebel faction keen to wrest control back from the Senate. As the plot develops we see just how far the survivors are willing to hold onto power and it personally gave me chills.

Be warned, there is a LOT of science in this book. If you’re a fan of Michael Crichton you’ll love it but it does get a bit heavy handed and overwhelming at times as Kira seeks answers to the RM conundrum. Part Two is not for reading when tired, distracted or under caffeinated. You will be scratching your head a lot if you are. In saying that it is incredibly interesting and kudos to Wells for making the effort to create a believable plot. So many dystopian novels will allude to an ecological/biological virus/war/disaster (delete as appropriate) but offer vague and lazy explanations why. Wells creates a world you can envision from the get-go. I’m certain Battlestar Galactica fans would love this book. The Partials remind me very much of the Cylons and I felt the same emotional pull towards them. Humanity despite coming out on the losing side doesn’t deserve a lot of sympathy in this book. As we get to know Samm, a Partial Kira captures to understand their involvement in RM, we learn more about their shady origins and humanities chilling treatment of their “children”.

The scientific info dump in the middle is replaced by some pretty exciting action scenes as the pace picks up towards the end. The tension builds nicely as Kira and her gang attempt to uncover the missing links to their past and the ultimate reveal- I did not see coming but it set the plot for book two up quite nicely. Despite the explosive revelations, it seems like the story is wrapped up in a bow until the final page when there’s a cliff-hanger that is pretty awesome had me reaching for Fragments immediately.
Despite the weighty plot at times, this was definitely one of the most interesting dystopian books I’ve read since the publication of Hunger Games and Divergent. It’s been a long wait but I found a winner!

Rating: ★★★★


11 thoughts on “Review: Partials by Dan Wells

  1. Ooooh, this book sounds perfect for me! I am just like you: I want to know everything! Science info dumps and lots of politics. I am dying to read this book now. Excellent review! 😀

  2. I really enjoyed the thick plot and twists thrown in. This one ranks up there with Hunger Games for me as well. I’ve read a lot of dystopians that haven’t made me shudder or cringe, and this one does both! Great review! 🙂

    • It’s so well done. So many dystopian YA books now are clearly just written to cash in, the worlds are so diluted and beige. This was the first that recreated that Hunger Games level of clear visual and creativity in the world building.

      • I agree. Too many poorly written dystopians out there. I’m picky and slightly hypocritical when it comes to world building. I love details. Vivid, well written details. BUT, too much gives me visual overload. I like having that room to use my own imagination as well. This was perfect.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Haul #8 | What Danielle Did Next

  4. I absolutely loved partials! I wasn’t too excited by the whole science aspect at first because I honestly suck at it, but I was so wrong! It made the book!
    and the characters, what else can I say than that I loved them as well!
    Fell in love with this series right away!

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