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Partials by Dan Wells (2012)
Partials (2012)
by Dan Wells (blog.)
Paperback ARC, Read for Ali’s Bookshelf Book Club
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)
buy a copy via Amazon.
synopsis via Goodreads.
preorder Isolation.
preorder Fragments

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival

My Thoughts:
Dan Wells’s Partials is how a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel should be. Not only is Partials entertaining, but left me questioning about what it means to be human. Wells creates a riveting story, packed with realistic multi-dimensional characters, heart-pounding action, and suspense that will leave you wanting more. Wells knows how to build a word while telling a captivating story. Partials is the sci-fi book for people that don’t read sci-fi.

A brilliant dystopian novel always leaves me with introspective questions, and Partials did just that. Partials left me thinking about the ethics behind man-made humanity and what makes the Partials “scary” (as opposed to just another ethic group, who just happens to be gifted with extra strength and health); if Partials are stronger, healthier, and are just like humans aside from a few differences in DNA, then why don’t we all become Partials already? If everyone had super strength (through steroids or something), then the Partials would not be feared, right?

Plot:
Sixteen year old medic, Kira Walker is one of the forty thousand lucky survivors of The Break eleven years ago in Long Island. A deadly virus has wiped out not only the rest of the population but any hope for rebuilding it for the virus also affects newborns. In a desperate attempt to preserve the species, teenagers are to be impregnated like cattle incessantly in hopes of having one lucky survivor.
However, the virus is not their only worry. The Partials, a group of man-made genetically modified beings made for military reasons, is an impending threat. They are stronger, healthier, and immune to the virus. Kira sets off on a journey to find them and to find a cure for the virus that obliterated humanity–only to find some secrets she rather not know.

Dystopian World:
Partials felt like a dystopian novel with their flawed government which would do quite well as a PR company. Even though calling the society an “utopia” would be stretching it since there are riots, and women are forced to breed. But being one of the few people left on the world, you don’t have to pay for anything. Since the population is borderline extinct, your health (especially if you are pregnant) is valued. You don’t need to worry about paying for clothes since you can just go to your favorite, abandoned store and grab whatever you desire (I know I would head straight to the Apple store to grab a few IPads and IPhones). If you think going to a store is too troublesome, just go next door; if the house is empty, the previous owners are probably dead, so you might as well take their stuff and their house too if you are inclined. Ok, there’s that problem with electricity, and no cars…but traveling by horseback sounds fun too.

Sci-fi:
I’m a Science-fiction fan, but even for those who aren’t, Partials keeps the fancy scientific stuff to a minimum: enough for explanations, but not so much that you end up lost. To be honest, despite my best efforts, I glazed over the science stuff. Something about several forms of the virus that transforms into a blob, and something about canceling out the virus with pheromones. Since Science isn’t one of my strengths, and Kira is the medic, I will just take her word for it.

Characters:
Whenever Kira is with a group of people, I get extremely confused. So many of them get introduced, only to disappear…or reappear later, but by then I’ve already forgot who they are. The characters are what makes the story “young adult.” Even if they are all teenagers, they have jobs, and their own houses–like children who are desperately trying to be an “adult.” At one point they try to fight for the right to be tried as an “adult.” But while they are given “adult” responsibilities, their logic is a too rash, and feels naive.

Kira: I am conflicted about her. I can’t say I like her, but she did feel real. She is too naive, and drags people with her stupidity, but perhaps her positivity is what gives her peers hope. She is young, naive, but she has an abundance of luck. I have to admire her fearlessness. Rather than liking her, it’s more accurate to say I am intrigued with her. I wish she had more opportunity to show off her capabilities as a fighter, I expected more from a girl trained to use a gun at eight years old.

Marcus: Even as Kira’s boyfriend, he is set up to be unlikable. He isn’t the perfect boyfriend who goes along with his girlfriend…and I admired him for it, though I can see others disliking him (it definitely makes his love proclamations seem less meaningful.) Boyfriends are not obligated go along with their girlfriend’s stupid ideas. But he holds on to traditional beliefs and is eager to marry Kira, protect her, and live happily ever after minding their own business.

Romance:
Not much romance going on. There’s kissing, and love proclamations…but there’s no fancy metaphors about the beauty of one’s eyes. Kira has a boyfriend, Marcus, but while they claim to love each other, even that sounds too forced coming from two young teenagers who are probably each other’s first love.

Pace:

It took about a third of the book before the book really picks up. I think my eyes were going to fall out from the first hundred or so pages, but it got TONS better as the story progresses, and the action starts happening. By the ending third, I couldn’t put it down even when my eyes were about to fall out of their sockets from staying up too late.

Ending:

Not exactly a cliffhanger, but gets the reader pumped up for the next book.

Rating: B+

Spoilery Questions I Just Need To Get Out of My System:
Why would Kira take a blood sample from her boyfriend, but not herself first? Even for the sake of comparison, or for the sake of having a “control” sample? Or is it hard to take your own blood sample? (Ok, I know it would kind of ruin the story if she did, but it was a questionable moment for me)
Is there a currency system if you can pretty much grab whatever you want? How is food distributed? Is there fresh food left, or do you have to salvage that too?
What’s keeping people from not working? Aside from medics, military, and politics, are all other occupations extraneous? Why work when you can be a couch potato..and it’s not like they can hold a gun to your head either since there is a depleting number of humans anyway.

Stuff That’s Kinda Related, But not Really:
If you didn’t already know, the next book in the Partials series is titled Fragments and will be released early next Spring. BUT happy for us, there will be the ebook spin-off novella, Isolation, coming out late August. I can’t wait!

Aside from writing brilliant novels, Dan Wells also hosts two podcasts: Writing Excuses and recently, Do I Dare Eat a Peach? (which I am listening to for the first time right now). I don’t even write books, but I must’ve went through seven episodes of Writing Excuses when I first discovered it. I think that says something, or maybe I was just using it as background sound since I was too lazy to change tracks on ITunes.

And on a separate note, Google needs to be a bit smarter when it comes to searching “Dan Wells.” I Googled “Dan Wells,” to find his website, but what showed up was the actor Dan Wells’s picture paired up with the author Dan Wells’s bio–Unless the actor also is a “American horror and science fiction author” that lives in Utah. And for about five minutes, I thought the author Dan Wells was such a hunk that should’ve been on Flavorwire list of most attractive authorsonly to find later out the was a pretty normal looking guy.

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