Saturday, March 3, 2012

Partials, by Dan Wells: You know things are bad when teen pregnancy seems like a good idea

Partials, by Dan Wells
Balzer and Bray: New York, 2012.
ISBN: 978-0-06-207104-0
(Review ARC provided by publisher)
Kira survived a civil war with the Partials (an engineered super-soldier race physically identical to humans) and a subsequent worldwide plague that ravaged most of humanity.  She lives with the other survivors on the island of Long Island, where they have created a society and even government.   However, the virus that caused the plague is so potent that no babies born have survived in the ten years since, and the government has responded by requiring all female citizens to become pregnant starting at age sixteen.   Kira, who works as a medic with the doomed babies, is not thrilled at the prospect, but when her adopted sister announces her pregnancy, Kira is determined to save the baby.  She is convinced that the DNA of the virus-immune Partials contains valuable information, if not the cure, and convinces her friends to go on an unsanctioned mission into Partial territory in the former New York City to catch one.  Though their mission goes awry, the group succeeds in bringing back a Partial with them, and Kira is assigned to study it.  A sentient being, it has information that makes Kira question her medical conclusions, her way of thinking, and eventually, her society.   A slow start ends at breakneck speed with a cliffhanger in this adventurous, high-adrenaline, post-apocalyptic, occasionally medical and political thriller. With a thoughtfully, realistically constructed world, it is recommended to sci-fi and dystopia fans, both boys and girls, grades 8-12 for some complex medical wrangling and plot-twists.  
I should start by saying that this book took me a lot of will power to stick with for the first 40ish pages.  But when I got interested, I got interested.  A fun read, it has a really well constructed world  - I kept being like RIGHT BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS or WHERE ARE HIS CLOTHES  or HOW DO THEY GET ELECTRICITY – all my fiddly questions were answered pretty thoroughly, and there are some fun extra details.  I loved reading about the structure of the new world that had been created by survivors, and in seeing what had happened in post-end-of-society/inhabitants New York!  I also loved reading  a little about how the Partials live.  In Greenwich.  Mwahaha.  Please oh please continue with visits to Partials along the Connecticut coastline (ahem, Old Lyme, por favor) in the sequel, Dan Wells!*  I also thought the morality and ethical issue of forcing teenage girls and women to be pregnant, like, all the time, was pretty well handled in terms of looking at it from all sides, and rightfully addressing the feelings of rage, helplessness, resignation, joy, and confusion, without letting it supersede the plot. Let's just sum it up and say this: you know things are bad when teen pregnancy sounds like a good idea. 
While some of the characters and situations were certainly things encountered in previous books (oh hi, leaders with other motives, occasionally wooden dialogue, misunderstood previous enemies, conflicts of the heart, looming love triangle, slightly ridiculous names, a bit of telling not showing), I rather liked the main characters that I was supposed to like.  I also loved that the Partials aren’t so cut and dry – as in they aren’t robots, they aren’t zombies, and apparently, their own problems (I’m still really curious about the following, which I might have missed: do they eat? If so do they…you know…need toilet paper? Also, how were they made?  And most importantly, what do they do for fun? So many important questions.) And while yes, you can see some plot twists coming from a mile away, one big one does take even a seasoned YA-dystopian reader for a bit of a head-spin.  Plus, I have to say, I haven’t really encountered a pseudo-medical YA book since reading Peeps way back when (and yes, I am sure there are more), so I’d be lying if I didn’t say this aspect.  The subsequent diagnostic/logical thought processes actually made me enjoy the book more than I thought I would.  This is no Hunger Games or Divergent, but it is certainly a solid entry into the YA dystopian publishing game (and way more uplifting than The Giver), and decidedly fun to read.  I’m excited for the sequel!  
 Want to read a preview?  Read the first 95 pages here.
*Dan Wells, if you include something about 84 being the worst highway in America, I will probably faint from overexcitement while reading the sequel.  Incentive to include this, I KNOW. 

1 comment:

Ελλάδα said...

Partials is action-packed full of surprises and deceit. Kira lives in a world where each passing day the idea of freedom becomes gradually nonexistent. Teetering on the brink of extinction after being almost wiped out by the Partials and of pending war with the Voice, who are rebelling against the Senate and the Hope Act revisions that will drop the child-bearing age to sixteen. The belief is that at some point a child will survive but this a world I wouldn't want to live in, where you are required to be knocked up as much and as frequently as possible. That is crazy, and so unhealthy and emotionally disturbing. Kira is a great character with a lot of heart and she is determined to save the future of the human race. She is realistic, memorable and well developed as are all the characters. You love the ones you should love, and dislike the ones you should dislike. I really liked Samm, and look forward to more about him in the next book. Though this work is a bit lengthy, the pace flowed smoothly and the concept is an interesting twist on the posing end to the human race. Partials takes some unexpected turns that you won't expect, and things are much more complicated than they seem. What would you do if faced with the possibility of your life, your body no longer being your own, but governed by the rules of society in an effort to save the human race? Fall in line or fight back?This is a story about choice, sacrifice and courage.

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