Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Partials by Dan Wells

I got this both as a galley from Net Galley and as an ARC at Barnes and Noble courtesy of HarperCollins Children’s Books.
I really enjoyed reading this! It was sort of a mixture of sci-fi, dystopia, and epic fantasy. It took me a while to read, but I think that is because my week has been crazy and not because of anything bad about the book.
It’s about Kira, a girl growing up in a world where no more babies are being born. There was an awful war against partials (aka: engineered creatures that look exactly like humans, but actually have super strength, hearing, speed, and agility) that decimated most of humankind along with the RM virus. The virus is actually what prevents infants from living past a few hours after childbirth. Kira lives in a city of survivors who are all desperate for a cure for the virus. Each human life is important because nobody knows how much longer life can last.
You can’t help but love Kira. The book begins with her internship at the maternity ward, and her witnessing yet another baby die. You love Kira not because of what she lives through or even how she handles it, but you love her because of how strong she is and how intelligently she works her way through her biggest problems. She knows what is happening is wrong, yet she doesn’t whine about it like her friends do; she tries to find a solution.
Because humans seem to be an endangered species, there are a lot of laws about pregnancy. Women 18 and over are required by law to pretty much always be pregnant. The government wants as many babies born as possible, so each child can be studied and analyzed until a cure can be found. It’s not long before the age is lowered to sixteen and there’s a lot of conflict about choice, a lot of comparisons made involving women and cattle, and a lot of literal political explosions. A civil war seems to be underway brought on by the Voice, a group of people who rightly believe that their voice has been taken away. And Kira, being the intelligent individual that she is, can see the positive side to both arguments. She knows that as many babies as possible need to be studied to find a cure, yet she’s not ready to become pregnant herself.
Kira decides to take matters into her own hands when of her best friends becomes pregnant. She promises her that she will do everything she can to find a cure. And she does. Kira soon realizes that the key to finding a cure to RM involves studying partials and their immunity to it. Against the orders of the senate, she and her friends (minus her boyfriend who is unwilling to go) leave safe territory and venture out into partial territory in search of one to capture and study.
Well, she finds one. There’s a lot of chasing, bombs exploding, deadly fight scenes, torture, and science in involved. Kira studies the parital (aka: Samm) up until her lab is bombed. There’s a lot of politics, surgery, and fast-paced escape scenes. One of the scariest moments was when Kira was captured in partial territory and was tested on herself. There’s all the wonderful themes of loyalty, ambition, and peace that make up any good dystopia. Add a little romance, some amazing adventures, and a bit of a Hunger Games type finale, and that pretty much sums up the book!
This world was so interesting to read about. It was not too far-fetched, and I definitely could see this being a rather believable future. I loved Samm and Kira’s relationship. And I loved how scientific Kira was and how much she believed that what she was doing was right. I thought the ending was fantastic. You know not all is right with Kira and the senate, though on paper, it all looks a-okay. And I’m so looking forward to a sequel.

My only qualm about the book is the lack of character development for her friends. I kind of feel like a lot of Kira’s ultimate decisions was based on a friend I barely knew or cared about. I know Kira. And I know her boyfriend. I also felt like I knew Samm and her guardian that was never really there. Yet, her friends who did all these crazy, dangerous things weren’t all too developed. I didn’t really find myself caring about what happened to them at all, let alone keeping their names straight.
All in all though, this was a great dystopia! I’m so glad I read this. And I give it a 9/10.

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