Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Book review: Partials by Dan Wells

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.

Partials is the first in the dystopian/science fiction series of the same name published in the UK by Harper Collins.

I was crazy excited to read Partials. I like the idea of a Dystopian/Sci-fi Young Adult book that is written by a guy.  I thought all that would give Partials a little more oomph and in parts it did.  Really this book is a story of two halves.  There is an awesome half and a not so awesome half.  The book starts with a bang it is a stark and grizzly beginning.  Unfortunately that feeling didn’t last.  The first half of the book was good but I felt like it dragged a bit.  There was some action and there was a lot going on but I never really engaged with it, I couldn’t quite let myself get lost in the pages.  It is at the half way point where everything changed.  We are introduced to a new character and it seems to lift the book tremendously.  After struggling with the first half I found I couldn’t put the book down once I hit the second half.
For some reason I was really hoping for something new with this book.  What I got was snippets from other books and movies.  This book takes influence from a lot of other things.  You can clearly see elements from The Terminator, I Robot, I am legend, The Handmaids Tale and Children of men running through this book.  Partials takes all these elements and mixes them up, the end product is something different that feels familiar.  I am not quite sure if that is a good or bad thing.  
I think that the approach to the characters and not the storyline is what makes this book different from the pack of dystopian fiction out there.  Our heroine, Kira, is not always right, and she is not always likable.  She does what she needs to do and damn the consequences.  She is full of sass and sarcasm and is really argumentative.  She talks without thinking and struggles to keep her mouth shut when she should, something I relate to.  Finally, she is smart and relies on her brain instead of her own or someone else’s brawn to get her out of trouble.  She is a breath of fresh air, a heroine that you can really get behind.
Kira’s boyfriend Marcus is not the typical YA heart throb either.  I never really thought of him as ‘hot’.  Instead he was funny and charming.  He is like the unpopular guy at school who you always liked but never could admit to.  He is a little too smart for his own good but never comes across as arrogant.  He is also caring.  You can see how much he adores Kira but he never becomes an emotional mess.  He is great in this book because his humour lightens the mood when it gets too heavy.   
The other male character Samm is the typical YA heart throb…in looks.  In character he is something a little different.  I cannot say much about Samm without giving too much away.  I will just say that I think he is great and I love him just a little bit.  All the other characters were well rounded and well put together. 
Without a doubt the best thing about this book is its ability to surprise you.  Most of the way through reading this book I thought I knew what was happening.  I was getting ready to write a review with the word predictable stamped all over it, but I was wrong.  This book lead me merrily up the garden path and then blindsided me with twists and turns I hadn’t even thought of.  The ending of this book is great and leaves you thirsting for more. 
Partials is very hit and miss but when it works it is brilliant.  It was maybe a little too long and it did lose its pace in parts, but the explosive second half made up for it.  I cannot wait for the second book in this series.

  4 stars

Published March 29th 2012 by Harper Collins Children's Books.  A free copy was provided for review. Image courtesy of Goodreads

Review by Kate Phillips


  1. I can see influences of other books that you mentioned, but I found the whole plot in general to be refreshing. Great review, so far this book is in my top ten list.

    1. Thank you, I did really enjoy the book to. I can absolutly see why some people love it. It is different.

  2. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book as much as I did! I know that it did have a lot of similarities to things like I, Robot and I Am Legend, The Terminator, etc. but that's one of the things I loved about it. I guess that's a love or hate kind of thing. For me, when I love one thing I really want more, so I always love seeing a book/movie that draws in similar elements and then spins it. But some people don't enjoy too many similarities (which I do understand).

    I guess I just loved this book because it's my favourite genre and ties in all the things I love to read about: end of the world/dystopian, viruses, technology, science, and a bit of romance.


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