|Partials (Partials #1) by Dan Wells
Published by Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: February 28, 2012
My Source: ARC from publisher
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. -(summary excerpt from Goodreads.com)
Partials by Dan Wells
My Thoughts: As soon as I saw Partials and read the blurb on the back, I knew I HAD to read it.
“When our ancestors were attacked at Pearl Harbor, they called it a day that would live in infamy. The day the Partials attacked us with the RM virus will not live in anything, because there will be none of us left to remember it.”
~President David R. Cregan, March 21, 2065, in a press conference at the White House. Three hours later he hanged himself.
Sounds exciting and scary and ominous, right? Exactly. That’s what I thought too. Plus I love the genre. Naturally, now that I’m finished with it I have thoughts. So…
Let’s talk about Partials, shall we?
1. The Background. Partials are man-made, built to look exactly like humans, only stronger and faster. They were built to help the humans win the Isolation War but they turned on the humans about five years later and released the RM virus, which destroyed about 99% of the population. The surviving humans fled to Long Island to set up a safe, livable society out of the reach of the deadly Partials. The Hope Act was enacted soon after, which mandated that girls age 18 and older must become pregnant yearly in order to try and repopulate the Earth. Since the Hope Act was passed just two years ago, a group of rebels has formed and gained popularity – The Voice of the People (aka The Voice). The Voice is in opposition to the Hope Act and fights against the government as much as they can to resist and object this forced pregnancy law.
As it stands now, the city of East Meadow faces two major threats: The Voice and The Partials. They haven’t been attacked by Partials in many years, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there. The Voice is the more serious threat, edging closer and closer to the city – eventually attacking periodically from within. As the story progresses, we as readers have to decide who is behind all of the attacks – The Voice, The Partials, or the governing body – and who the people can really trust. OH HOW EXCITING!
2. The Characters. The characters are all either humans that were alive before the Partials attacked and RM was released, “plague babies” (born shortly before or after the RM virus – usually without one or both parents), or Partials.
- Kira Walker. A “plague baby.” We meet 16-year-old Kira as she witnesses the loss of her ninth baby as a medic intern in the hospital maternity ward. She studies each death that results from the RM virus, which attacks the newborns and kills them within the first 56-or-so hours of their lives – without fail, every time. Dismayed and devastated by this, Kira feels an urgency to find a cure for the RM virus now that her best friend has become pregnant and will deliver soon. She dutifully studies each death in hopes that the research will help find a cure…except that the research keeps turning up the same information again and again – nothing new has been learned in approximately a decade. Kira wonders if finding a cure lies outside of researching newborns and instead possibly *gasp* checking into the genetics of a Partial. After her request for the government to procure a Partial for her study is denied, Kira decides to take matters into her own hands and grab one herself. ~ Kira is an interesting character, very firm in her convictions and ideals. She has a level head, and is fiercely independent and determined. Despite loving Marcus, she never lets her boyfriend influence her decisions and sway her on what she feels is right. Kira is smart and she’s not afraid to be smart in front of others – she never dumbs herself down. I love this about her. Excellent female lead.
- Marcus. Kira’s boyfriend, also a hospital medic. Marcus stands out to me the most because he provided comic relief for the rest of the group of friends when tensions and stresses were high. Marcus loves Kira – enough to want to marry her, even though she keeps turning him down because she just isn’t ready for marriage yet. What I do not like about him is that he does not support Kira in some of her biggest and most important decisions, even when he feels that she may be right. In this, I felt like he looked like a coward and also a bit whiny a couple of times in the book. I rarely if ever say this about a main character, but in this book Marcus could have been pretty much left out and I would have been fine with it. I just didn’t connect with him, I didn’t like him, and I felt him a little bit disposable. (Gosh, I hate sounding so harsh, but I’m just being honest.) I’m hoping that my feelings will change for the better in the next installment, because it breaks my heart to dislike characters, particularly in such a great book.
- Samm. A Partial. He looks exactly like a human but isn’t. He was engineered as a killing machine, a super soldier. Samm happened to be the unlucky Partial that was captured by Kira and her friends when they snuck outside of East Meadow and happened upon a group of them. When the government caught wind of this little operation and had to decide what to do with the Partial in their territory, here’s what they decided: Kira was given five days to study him, learn what she could to find a cure for RM, and then he would be destroyed. ~ During those five days, Kira surprisingly establishes a rapport with Samm and we learn the truth behind why it’s Partials vs Humans. ~ Samm demonstrates that he is different than their perception of Partials by wanting peace and actually saving Kira when he could have escaped and easily made it back to safety with the other Partials. But just as quickly as Samm earns the trust of Kira and her friends, he then loses it, but then he gains it back again…or does he? Wait, do we trust Samm or not? Hmmm….
The secondary cast is varied; they range from weak to strong, from low-class to high-ranking government officials, from rebel outlaw-types to law-abiding citizens. Some of them are friends of Kira’s and some become enemies. All-in-all, each member of the character cast is colorful and perfect for their part. I enjoyed reading them, whatever their role.
3. The Study. Now this may just be me, but I sort of felt like this book was a “before the study” and an “after the study” because of the information we learned about the Partials during that time. AND because of the bomb that destroyed the lab that Kira was working in, destroying all of her research (basically making her time wasted). Kira was injured and Samm – instead of running back to his people – stuck around to help her, even though he was beaten and tortured. As a result, Kira and her friends decided to sneak him OUT of the city and back to where he belonged so he wouldn’t be killed. It’s this “after the study” time that changed the story a bit. BECAUSE…
- we find that some of the people that we thought were good are actually bad.
- we find that some of the people that we thought we could trust are actually acting against us.
- our heads get completely messed with in terms of the story, and it is brilliant and fun and everything a story like this should be.
4. Plot Twists. YES. Just, yes. It’s a big book, folks. They are all over the place.
5. Romance. There is some romance in the book in several places. There are several couples, most noteworthy being Kira and Marcus. These relationships are present, although they are always in the back of the story, never overshadowing any other part of the plot. For example, we are aware that Kira has a boyfriend the whole time, but it’s just a detail. It’s refreshing, really. Not all books have to have a big, heavy romance (even though I love them).
6. The World-Building. Great world-building. We see the landscape after the spoils of war, after 99% of the population has been destroyed, and after the population continues to fight. We see the bleak and barren wasteland it has become, and it is described so well. The people and their groups (The Voice, etc.) even are built well into this world. I could visualize this entire book scenario in my head, which (I think) is part of the makings of a great post-apocalyptic book, and very present in Partials.
Partials by Dan Wells is a big book, you guys. At 472 pages, it’s an investment. But I think it is a good investment because there are a ton of golden things on the inside: politics, rebellion, governmental control, reproductive rights – stuff like that. None of it is too heavy, of course, but it is very present and it makes for a GREAT post-apocalyptic book with a creepy, discussable government.
Kira is a great female lead. She is not dumb or stupid. She is nothing less than fierce, in my opinion. She drives the story and the action, and she does it well. I was surprised to find myself so invested in Samm, particularly with everything that develops with him in the second half of the book, but I find him wildly intriguing and entertaining as a character and am thrilled to see what will happen with him in the next book.
I will say that there is a ton of military-speak and medical jargon and scientific talk. The medical jargon didn’t bother me at all, but I did feel a bit bogged down by the military and scientific terminology. There were a couple of times where it just seemed to lag on, and those were the only times in the entire book that I wanted things to HURRY UP!! and get to the real action of the story. Other than that, I enjoyed everything about this book, I think, and would recommend it to lovers of post-apocalyptic science-fiction without hesitation.
Partials will appeal to fans of:
Very Strong Female Protagonist
Strong Characterization with a
Great Secondary Cast of Characters
Excellence in World-Building
Stories involving Science or Medicine or Military
Partials by Dan Wells is currently available for purchase.
**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen!