Expected publication: February 28th 2012 by Harper Teen
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley
Series or stand-alone: Partials (1)
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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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.
Partials is a unique book, and one that, despite feeling that it is sometimes fuzzy on details I would like more clarification on, for the most part, author Dan Wells draws the reader immediately into his book. Partials catapults the reader smack-dab in the middle of the action, where we learn instantly the effects RM - the mysterious virus unleashed by the Partials eleven years ago - has on infants: they never live long. The youngest human left in the decimated population is fourteen years old, and with no surviving children to carry the next generation forward, conditions are strained. The Hope Act mandates pregnancy at 18 years old, and Kira Walker feels hopeless, in the midst of it all. I liked and felt for Kira immediately. She is strong and opinionated, with a huge heart, and she is not happy with her lot in life, or with her government's attempts at an answer to all the problems. Kira wants to do something other than watch new babies die, and I definitely sympathized with her. Being in that situation - and worse, working in the maternity ward - is bad enough, worse is knowing there's nothing you can do - or is there?
What I liked most about Partials were the characters. All of them were strong, yet with their own flaws, so that they all seemed real, like people you might get to know. Kira wasn't happy being a bystander - she wanted to reach out and fix something, anything. Her adoptive sisters each had their own reasons for being unhappy, for wanting to do more, be more. Marcus, Kira's friend and sometimes boyfriend, was fiercely devoted to her, yet sometimes unable to understand her actions and motivations. Several of the secondary characters are like Kira in that they are determined to change their present, in order so that there is a future, while others, including some of her adopted family, are hesitant to rock the boat. The plan Kira develops is risky and thrilling - I was at once supportive and afraid, as Dan Wells propels the reader right along on Kira's journey. Though several months pass in Partials, the pacing is steady, and never really falters or detracts from the story being told.
Plot wise, Partials is a very strong story, which throws several twists into the narrative so that when I read the last page, I was definitely wishing it was time for Failsafe (the sequel) to be published. There is a huge shocker that, thankfully, I didn't see coming, because it really added to my enjoyment of Partials. I do have a gripe though - while the world-building is well done, I wanted to know more about what led to the present state of things. There is a war mentioned - the Isolation War - and then the war with the Partials, and although we are told in brief what happened, I'm a back-story kind of girl, so I still wanted more, and in that sense, I didn't enjoy Partials as much as I thought I would. A few of the plot elements kept making me think of a television show I adored a few years back - I'm not going to say which one - and that was both off-putting and awesome. The question at the end of Partials remains: just because you are told someone is the enemy, are they really so different? And as it so far-fetched to think that something could be learned from someone's nemesis?
Partials is a fast-paced book that will no doubt leave readers breathless. The characters are well-developed and the chances they take to save their race and their world are daring and admirable. I would have liked more explanation, but I look forward to that in the sequel, as I am sure that author Dan Wells will produce yet another can't-miss dystopian!