Author: Dan Wells
Genre: YA Dystopian
Series: Partials (Book 1)
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 472 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062071041 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0007465224 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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.
Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question–one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.
Quick & Dirty: With the last of the human race trapped on Long Island and rapidly going extinct, Wells explores the lengths society will go to for survival and control. This post-apocalypse sci-fi is a face paced read with an engaging heroine.
Opening Sentence: Newborn #485GA18M died June 30, 2076, at 6:07 in the morning.
Eleven years after the RM virus was released, what’s left of humanity is trapped on Long Island. Trapped, because leaving the island puts them into enemy territory–enemies they created. The Partials are super-soldiers, genetically engineered killing machines, that were created by the US company ParaGen to help fight the Isolation War against China. But when the war ended we had no use for super-soldiers. Humanity treated them as less than human, almost like slaves. So they rebelled. They fought back and no amount of infantry could have stopped them. Not that they gave humanity much of a chance. Once they released the RM virus, humans dropped like flies.
RM destroyed society. It’s what caused the Break, the division between the war and everything after. People who live in East Meadow have the security of the Defense Grid and the Senate who keep them protected from the Partials, but the Voice has begun attacking. The Voice is a faction of radicals, but their main goal is actually something a lot of people want. An end to the Hope Act. The Hope Act is, essentially, government institutionalized rape. At the age of 18 women are required by law to become pregnant. To try and keep the human race going. The women average about a baby a year, but the required age keeps dropping. Because the babies aren’t living longer than a few days. The RM from the Partials War is killing them no matter how quarantined they keep the mother and child.
Our heroine is Kira, a sixteen year old medic intern in the maternity ward. She thought that being in maternity would be where she could do the most good, but watching babies die as she records their heart rate isn’t how she plans to save the world. The hospital barely has enough solar panels to run their monitors and equipment, much less any of the older, more advanced pre-Break equipment. Not that they could use the old technology anyway. The people who built it, or even just knew how to run it, had died already. Even the elevators are shut down.
So Kira changes to her specialty: virology. While running tests on some blood work–donated more or less graciously by her boyfriend Marcus–Kira begins to understand just what RM has done to humanity. But the only way she can think to move the research in RM forward is by doing something dangerous, if not deadly. Because no one’s seen a Partial in eleven years. At least, no one who’s lived to tell about it. And getting a sample from the Partials, the cause of the RM and the only research avenue left to explore might do more than get Kira and her friends killed. She could very easily be responsible for the next Partial War.
Wells has spun a deep post-apocalypse that rides on the idea of the United State’s indisputable desire to maintain its role in the world as a superpower. These Partials are both more and less than human. Wells does a great job exploring how much power is too much, both politically and physically. He has created adults out of those that should have been children, if children still existed, and he did it with such clarity that you never for a second doubt the relationships he’s built.
If there were aspects of the plot that seemed predictable, then this books strongest point is having so many aspects working together that by the time one plot reaches its conclusion, you’ve forgotten what the ending would be. He has worked so many variables into this story, beginning with politics and rights, while ending in romantic relationships. This story was a great start a series that I can’t wait to read more of!
“It’s what I told you before–the top minds left in the world have been studying RM for eleven years. They’ve looked at everything.”
“But there has to be something else,” said Kira, flipping furiously through the list.
“Live studies, dead studies, blood scrubbers, dialysis, breath masks. There are even animal studies in here. Kira, they’ve studied literally everything they could possibly get their hands on.”
She kept flipping through study after study, variable after variable. And as she reached the end of the list, something dawned on her.
There was one test subject not included anywhere in the database. A subject no one had seen in eleven years.
Kira paused, staring at the screen, feeling dirty and uncomfortable as the virus stared darkly back.
If they wanted to understand that virus, why not go to the source? If they wanted to see what true immunity looked like, why not look at test subjects who were truly immune?
If they wanted to study RM, what better way than by studying a Partial?
The Partials Series:
FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Partials. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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