Author: Dan Wells
Series: Partials #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: 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.
I have to say that “Partials” blew away all of my expectations and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it was November’s “Your Pick for Nik!”. I haven’t enjoyed a teen book so much since the “Hunger Games”. Incredibly fast-paced and creative, I guarantee you’ll have a difficult time putting this one down!
Writing: The writing was by far my favorite element of this book. Breaking the mold of your typical teen books (especially the many dealing with postapocalyptic settings) Wells managed to deliver one surprise after another throughout the story. It’s this lack of predictability that has moved this book into my top 10 favorite teen books. Don’t get me wrong, I love the genre, but after a while they do all tend to sound alike. “Partials” was so profoundly different that I’m still reeling from it a few weeks later. Wells was incredibly creative and resourceful in his plot-development, and I stand in awe at his originality. Even the scientific aspects dealing with the RM virus deserve some praise – it was written easily enough to follow for us more, uh, literary folks while still coming across as legitimate knowledge from the author (kudos to him for doing his research). In any case, I was convinced he knew what he was talking about.
Another thing I appreciate about the writing was the fact that there was not a single drop of false tension throughout the entire book. False tension is created when an author withholds stupid information to try to add suspense. Wells was actually quite forthcoming, giving the reader all the information he could up front using Kira’s perspective to shape what he wanted us to know. It was refreshing, and made the parts with actual tension that much more intense – you know something serious is going on. In contrast, when things got too intense, he always managed to relieve the tension with a well-placed bit of humor – incorporating it in a clever and non-awkward manner. I even laughed aloud a few times.
Finally, there was a supreme lack of “fluff” in this book. Every scene either worked to advance the plot or reveal character. This is a major part of why the story was so fast-paced, and this leads me to my next observations:
Pacing: I don’t know about you, but when I read, my mind tends to wander every so often and I find myself having to go back and reread several paragraphs or even pages at a time. I didn’t do that once in this entire book. In fact, I was so into the story that I found it difficult to stop and take notes for this post. It’s not the type of book you analyze, it’s the type you just enjoy! It is one of the best-paced books I’ve read in ages, and it makes me even more eager for the second book, “Fragments“, as it’s bound to be just as good. This is where I also draw my greatest comparison to the “Hunger Games” trilogy, specifically “Mockingjay.” It had all of the same elements of Collins’ final book, but didn’t have shocking events just for “shock’s” sake. In any case, Wells definitely figured out how to keep an audience engaged, and I dare you to read it without becoming riveted!
Characters: I actually don’t think the characters were the strongest elements of the story. Most of the characters, save Kira and Samm, were written in a rather flat manner, seeming to be to the vehicles by which we are led to our next events rather than people we were supposed to get connected to. A means to an end, if you will. Not to say they weren’t likable. In fact, for flat characters they were really well-developed. I think Wells did this on purpose to draw the reader’s focus to the events and provided a bit distance from the violence (I guess it’s supposed to make us a little im-“Partial”).
Since the book is written in first-person, the reader really only finds out what Kira thinks of the characters, rather than as the author would describe them. It was done quite well, but I believe this is why it lacked a bit of physical description. I, for one, would have appreciated a few more drop-in reminders. We really only get to know them through their dialog, and they don’t really develop beyond that. All that said, the format the author chose for his characters worked brilliantly within the context, and I didn’t feel the lack because Kira was such a strong lead. She was a living contrast of teenage girl and soldier, managing to be otherworldly and relatable at the same time.
World Building: The best thing I can say about the world building is that I felt like I was there. The imagery was amazing, using beautifully descriptive passages such as, “…last to fall were the buildings, distant and solemn, the gravestones for an entire world” (147). In addition to this lovely descriptive voice we actually found out more about this world through the attitudes and lifestyles of the people. They are living in a world of extremes where danger lurks around every corner. I loved that the environment was almost a character in its own right.
Overall, “Partials” is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I think it has the potential to be the next big hit of the genre! Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!
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Now Let’s Discuss!
I had a lot of fun composing this review, but I’m most looking forward to hearing what YOU think. Do you agree or disagree with my assessments and why? What elements of the book worked for you? Did you find the story compelling? Did any of you enjoy the book as much as I did?