Sunday, July 8, 2012

Book Review: "Partials" by Dan Wells

Partials review
Author: Dan Wells
5 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dystopian Reading Level: Young Adult

Disclosure: I received a copy of this ebook as a gift from a friend; I’m under no obligation, but happy to provide an honest review.

Synopsis: 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.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

My Thoughts: First of all, a big thank-you to my facebook friend, and author, James Rowe, for gifting me this awesome book! Check out his books here or here – they look pretty amusing!

This is book one of the Partials series by Dan Wells, known for his series featuring John Cleaver, a teenage sociopath and potential future serial killer. After reading those three books I was hooked – I’m definitely a fan of Dan Wells, and I have been looking forward to getting and reading this book ever since I heard about it. If you want to learn more about Dan, check out his website, here. He has some other books out there I’m also itching to read, and I’ll also be continuing this series as it comes out. A prequel, Isolation, is due out later this year (8/28/12), and the 2nd novel in the series, Fragments, is due next year (2/26/13).

One things Wells knows is how to give his characters – and the readers – real dilemmas. I mean – a huge percentage of the population has been wiped out, the babies are dying – what’s the best thing to do? Have as many babies as possible and hope they can learn what’s going on so they can start saving them, right? But of course there are going to be those who don’t want the government to tell them what to do – even if that something is a fairly logical step to keeping the human race alive – so then was have the Voice, acting like terrorists and killing off the few survivors. I mean, what kind of rat bastards blow up a hospital? Or was that the Voice? If they don’t agree with how this community is being run, why don’t they just gather themselves up and go off and make a new one? It’s not like there isn’t plenty of available places to go – this is part of what I don’t really understand. These questions become important, by the way.

Then again, a lot of the leaders of the East Meadow community come off as just plain sociopathic, killing and “disappearing” elements that disagree with them, or that are a “threat” to them in some way. Also, when there is a huge problem with the idea of forcing women to have as many babies as possible, it seems a pretty stupid step to make things even worse by making the age even lower than it was – but it seems their idea is that if they just keep throwing babies at this thing, eventually one will survive. Even if none have in 11 years. There are times when it even seems like maybe the government doesn’t want to cure RM that badly, since it allows them to keep a firmer hold on the people, but it’s hard to say. Since this is a series, I’m hoping that some of the questions I’ve had will be answered, of course (and a few even get answered in this book, but I won't tell you which!!).

It’s sort of strange, because while I’m usually the last person to think that the government should be given a lot of power, and the first to agree that personal liberty over security is important, I can also see where they are coming from and even agree with their steps to a certain point – the survival of humanity should be the most important thing, after all. So I spent a lot of this book really conflicted. I’ve had an author tell me that he looks forward to my reviews because I am one of the few readers he knows that reads with such emotion – well, I’m not so sure of that, as I see plenty of emotion in other reviewers’ reviews, but it’s true. Like everything, I put a lot of myself into everything I read (do, think, etc.), and I’m glad that comes out in my reviews.

Medically, what I found fascinating is that they are using a finger-prick to gather blood for testing. Why I find it interesting is that, almost every time I have to had blood drawn for one reason or another, my husband informs me that in Russia, they used a finger-prick, rather than drawing several tubes of blood like the phlebotomists traditionally do here. Of course, the medical establishment in this reality has been frightfully decimated, and they are teaching the next generation through apprenticeship programs, begun as young as age 14. Kira, a maternity nurse intern, is just 16; the youngest remaining human (that they know of) is Saladin, who is 14. The virus they are fighting is insidious – mutating from blood-born to air-born and back again, apparently, as needed to keep itself alive. A really nasty little piece of business.

Obviously whenever you are learning about something, it is important to remember that there are multiple sides to any story. A simple way to explain this is to say that every person has their own reality, and that any “history” we are taught, we have to take with a grain of salt – because there is always going to be a slant, at least in the beginning, and as time goes on and that slant is ingrained into the psyche of the people, pretty soon it becomes “the truth” - even if it is not necessarily so. So while things at first seem cut and dried in East Meadow, as the book gradually goes along, we learn more and more about the true of the situation, the reality of the world, and everything goes askew. I loved it.

I’ve seen other reviewers complain about a lack of character development; I guess some might see it as so, but I felt that this was a pretty accurate representation of a group of people, scrabbling to survive at the edge of the apocalypse, and so many of them young – just how psychologically developed could they be? It’s not like they have the same sorts of advantages we have in our oh-so-comfortable world here. So, I would take those complaints with a grain of salt and read this for what it is. I think Wells did a brilliant job and I highly recommend this book for fans of dystopian fiction.


  1. I so want to finish this book and now even more. Dan Wells blew me away before and I have wanted devoted focus to finish I own both hard back and ebook and now more thank ever want to finish. I think the character dev as of right now is spot on for teens in a story (pg 122 as if right now). Nice review BTW!

    1. Glad you liked it. So you read the John Cleaver books? Weren't they awesome? I actually didn't "read" all of them - two were audiobooks, and only one was an actual book, although I've now bought a paperback cover of one of them so my husband can read it. But we're still missing one of 'em ... I need to go get it eventually, but he's bad about reading stuff I recommend to him for some reason. *sigh* Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy it like I did!

  2. I guess I need to check out this author. And I will. Oh, and I LOVE that big-ass government picture! funniest thing I've seen today.

    1. Heheh. Figured that would break up the monotony of all those words, and give people who make it that far a bit of a gift... :-)


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