Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Partials (Partials #1)
By Dan Wells
Balzer + Bray

To Sum It Up: War with genetically engineered beings called Partials and a virus released by them to target humans have left humanity on the brink of extinction. No new babies are being born with immunity to the RM virus, and they die shortly after birth. Sixteen-year-old Kira Walker is training to be a medic and witnesses the dying newborns firsthand. She believes that the Partials, who are immune to the virus, hold the key to finding a cure. Kira devises a dangerous plan to enter Partial territory and bring one back to the lab to be studied. Her search for answers turns out to be more than Kira bargained for, though, when she discovers some shocking information not only about the Partials but about humans, too.

Review: I hadn’t read any reviews of Partials before borrowing it from the library, so I was a little surprised to find out that it was more of a pure science fiction novel than a dystopian one (though it also easily falls under the dystopian category). Science and I were never really pals in school; it never interested me as much as, say, English and history. Unfortunately, my lack of enthusiasm for all things scientific affected my enjoyment of Partials, which is an otherwise thrilling, intelligent story of humanity’s fight for survival.

I’m used to having to suspend my disbelief while reading fiction, but I thought that Partials asked me to accept a lot of things at face value. The Partials were created to fight for humans in the Isolation War with China, but the genetically engineered soldiers turned on their human makers, setting off the Partial War. An engineered virus called RM, attributed to the Partials, was released, killing most of the human population. The North American survivors are now clustered together on Long Island. Although the characters in the book discuss the Isolation War from time to time, I’m still in the dark about exactly what went on. The book plops you in the middle of a disaster scenario but doesn’t dwell on the details of how you arrived there. In this case, some additional background information on how this world came to exist would have been helpful, at least to me.

There’s even more going on in this story. The government has enacted a law called the Hope Act, which requires females eighteen years and older to be pregnant as often as possible in the hope that a baby with RM immunity will finally be born. A rebel group called the Voice vehemently opposes the Hope Act and creates all sorts of chaos to make its position known. The action in Partials is nonstop and very exciting, but sometimes I felt like I was experiencing information overload trying to keep up with the various plotlines, which apparently, I’m not very skilled at doing.

While I’m all for brainy, take-charge heroines in YA novels, which Kira completely is in Partials, I thought that she also suffered from a bit of a superhero complex. Her determination to save the human race is admirable, but there are times when she pursues her goal so doggedly that she loses sight of everything else, like how much she’s asking from her friends when she requests their help with her mission to find a Partial. On the one hand, I liked Kira’s fearless, can-do attitude, but on the other, her occasional tunnel vision irked me.

Along with the multiple plotlines, there is a host of supporting characters to keep track of. I was really intrigued by the Partial, Samm. The motives behind his actions are quite murky; I’d love to know what he’s thinking. I also liked Jayden and Xochi, two of Kira’s friends, but the rest of the characters sort of blurred together after a while, especially the government officials.

Getting past all of the science talk in Partials was a big hurdle for me, and I just couldn’t do it [hanging head in shame]. Readers who do love this type of thing should revel in the detailed descriptions of Kira’s RM studies. I also felt that the book had a lot of great ideas, but this abundance was also part of its problem. It tried to incorporate all of them, leaving some underdeveloped. Although Partials fell a little short for me, it’s sure to find plenty of fans among science fiction enthusiasts.

All in All: Anyone who likes dystopians which lean more towards sci-fi will probably enjoy this. I might read the sequel one day because I really liked Samm and would like to know what happens to him, but it’s one of those “I’ll get to it when I get to it” type of books.


  1. I have this one waiting for me at the library (I'm picking it up today). I am SUPER excited to read it, especially since you've said it leans a little more sci-fi. What can I say, I love me some science fiction.

    1. I hope you enjoy it! It's really action-packed from beginning to end.

  2. I had so many of the same feelings as you when I initially read this one. There were holes and things that seemed entirely too far fetched. What I've noticed over the months since I read it has stuck with me. I keep finding myself thinking about certain elements and, of course, Samm. I'm really intrigued by him and hope to find out more about him and also hope the next book answers some of my questions. We'll see, I guess! Great review!

    1. Samm was my favorite character, and I loved reading about him. He pretty much saved this book for me because I really struggled to get through some parts, like whenever Kira was in the lab talking about blobs and spores. Maybe the book will grow on me, too, between now and when the sequel comes out.

  3. I gave this 3 stars too, and for all the same reasons. It was an okay read, but I doubt I'll pick up the second one.

    1. Despite all of the action in the book, I just couldn't really get into it, which was disappointing because I liked the premise a lot.


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