review: Partials

March 16, 2012 2012, 4 star books, dan wells, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, Wendy 71

Partials by Dan Wells, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, HarperTeen, Harper, YA

by Dan Wells

It seems as though YA Science Fiction is experiencing a bit of a resurgence lately. Like many other readers, I’m a little tired of the barely-dystopian trend, so it’s great to see a very firmly science-oriented book like Partialscome along. Airborne viruses + survivalist action drama + human interest story is a great combination, and one I think most fans of post-apocalyptic thrillers will enjoy.

In the year 2076, 11 years after an airborne viral outbreak, the average newborn lives just 56 hours. 16-year-old Kira Walker, a young medic interning at a hospital, thinks that the key to human survival lies in studying Partials, a group of rogue cyborgs described as “unthinking, unfeeling human killers.” Since Partials released the virus to begin with, surely they have the answers to a cure–whether it’s through their genetic makeup or through their knowledge. When her friend Madison gets pregnant, Kira embarks on a dangerous mission: to find and capture a Partial so she can save her friend’s child.

But you’ve seen some positive reviews and some negative ones, right? So here is the type of person that I think will have a blast with this book.

You’re a Battlestar Galactica fan. There are many similar BSG elements in this book, in a very good way. Partials are very similar to Cylons, and there’s a war between humans and Partials that will decide the fate of both. There are also some elements of Star Trek: TNG, and The Matrix in this book, which aren’t bad influences to have at all. But lest you be concerned about knockoffs, this is definitely an original story, told in a very engaging way.

You like medical thrillers. Kira runs a lot of tests on a captured Partial in this book, and while some readers may have an issue with all the medical business that goes on, I personally love books about viruses and analyses of scientific data, etc., so I very much enjoyed all that. Do Kira’s experiments require some suspension of disbelief? Sure. Especially since a. she’s a student b. we don’t get all the answers we might be asking and c. this disease doesn’t actually exist. (True story!) But what worked for me was that the author did a great job of walking us through the steps and logic and reasoning behind Kira’s methodology.

Post-apocalyptic books rock your socks. Something about this book reminded me a lot of the feel of Mira Grant’s Feed and Deadline, but for the YA crowd–and I don’t make those comparisons lightly. There is a great blend of virological talk, exciting action sequences, and entertaining twists and turns that will appeal to fans of the Newsflesh series. Plus there are some survivalist elements I also really enjoyed. Worrying about energy conservation, day to day needs, salvage runs? Please, tell me more!

You appreciate butt-kicking heroines. I really liked Kira, who is a smart, responsible heroine, even if she is a little too narrowly focused on her ideals and a little too quick to fly off the handle. I would liked to have felt more of an emotional connection with her, the way I did with the very intriguing Samm(view spoiler), but I did feel as though I understood her. And it’s great to have a girl scientist portrayed in YA.

Do any of these sound like you? If so, get thee to a bookstore and grab a copy of Partials asap!

I will say that some of the secondary teen characters blended together for me, so that it wasn’t until significant things happened to them that I remembered who was who and what part they were playing in the story. All the adults are there primarily to advance the plot as well, and basically serve as foils and obstacles to the teens. And even though it’s understandable that teenagers have taken on more advanced roles earlier on due to the outbreak, they have such huge responsibilities that it does make you raise an eyebrow a bit; it’s almost as if Partials was written with adult characters, but was adapted for the YA market. While some of the specifics of the story may strain credulity when you stop to look at the big picture, I have to admit that during reading, it’s hard to care, because the story is so well-paced and entertaining. I’m hoping that in the sequel, we’ll see deeper character development and further exploration of the ramifications of the Hope Act as the story continues.

All in all, Partials was a lot of fun for me. My immediate reaction when I finished the book was “fan-freaking-tastic!” and I’m excited that there’s such a great science fiction option out there for YA readers. Don’t get me wrong, I love fluffy novels or the types of books that feature girls in pretty ballgowns. But I like the kind of girl who wears lab coats, doesn’t mind risking her life for what she believes is right, and argues passionately about the civil rights of cyborgs, too.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review. This review also appears on GoodReads.

71 Responses to “review: Partials”

  1. elena

    Ahh I could have sworn I commented on this review! I’m a big fan of BSG (well, at least up until s3 because then it all fell apart) so I think I’d really enjoy this book. I like sci-fi a lot so I’m definitely going to try this book. Thanks for the fantastic review as always, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      I think you’ll enjoy this too, Elena. :) And BSG’s ending still is a bit disappointing to me (I WISH THEY WERE ALL CYLONS), but still–what a great series! I’m glad you’re a fellow sci-fi fan. I think there’s a lot more YA sci-fi coming out soon, which is awesome.

  2. donttakemybooksaway

    I really enjoyed the medical/science-y parts of this book… the virus, ParaGen, and the Partials really intrigued me. I liked all the details about a recently destroyed society (like “shopping” in abandoned strip malls and warehouses). I felt similarly disappointed with some of the book’s characters. It was definitely a fun read, though!

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, that was all really great for me too, although I think a lot of readers probably get turned off by it, judging by some of the more middling/negative reactions I’ve seen. Still, it was fun for me–I’m glad it was fun for you, too!

  3. Sarah (saz101)

    Ah!! I read your review on Goodreads today, and L O V E D it! My inner Sci-fi nerd (it’s not so inner, it’s outer ;D) is SERIOUSLY excited.

    I mean, you mentioned BSG, TSG and The Matrix… I think I love you :D

    • Wendy Darling

      Ooo, I love you too! :D Especially if you decide to read this book, hah. Also, I don’t think any sci-fi nerd is ever really hidden. It tends to tip people off when we jump up and down a the mention of BSG, hee hee.

  4. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    Well, for most of the requirements i don’t fall under. I don’t like dystopians and am disinterested in stories like star trek’s and the matrix’s. but i do love heroines who are fighters and strong and action packed stories
    Great review ;)
    I love the wise owl on the sidebar, so cute!
    My Blog Link

  5. KM

    Great review, Wendy! I like your suggesting who would like it! I actually had 2 ARCs of this one but didn’t read either. o_0 I’m just really over the dystopian/post-apocalyptic trend, though Dan Wells was really cool at the signing I went to! And his next book sounds like fans of PARTIALS would like it too!

    • Wendy Darling

      TWO advance reader copies, KM? So jealous! I’m over the dystopian/post-apoc-lites, too, but I thought this one was really well done. And now I have to go look up info on Wells’ next book…

  6. Book Sake

    I felt the same about the book. Loved the main character and her skills, but at the same time some of the other characters did blend together too easily.

    – Jessica @ Book Sake

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that way! I’m hoping that since we know more about Kira and Samm now (and Marcus too), that will be less of a problem in the second book. Or that the focus will continue to be more on them.

  7. Jaskirat@SeeitORreadit

    YAY for but-kicking heroines!!! Honestly I love dystopians and though I was a bit iffy to start this one I think you totally changed my mind! I also love that fact that this book consists of science fiction…as long as it’s realistic and unique I’m up for it!!! Great review :-)


    • Wendy Darling

      I LOVE changing people’s minds. :D Yay! I’m glad you’ll consider giving it a go, Jaskirat. :) I’ll be on the lookout with my fingers crossed to see if you like it.

  8. Heidi

    Great review! I had my own bag of issues with Partials, even though it’s totally written for my type of person. I did like it, but it just felt like something was missing to me. Like, for example, the inability to connect with Kira. I didn’t really like her all that much, but I did like things about her. I liked that she was smart and kick-butt in a mental/brave way that had nothing to do with physical prowess. I did like Samm, and am kind of hoping we get more of him in the next book and less of Kira/the other teens.

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s interesting you say that, Heidi–I have another friend who didn’t like Kira at all. While I didn’t really feel an emotional connection with her, I think the best way to describe it is that I did like her intellectually, so I still enjoyed seeing everything from her perspective. I agree, it would be great to see more of Samm in the next book, and definitely less of the other teens. I don’t know how you’ll get around less of Kira, though, hah!

  9. Freak-YA-tastic

    Great review!

    I’m eager to read this book. I’m not a fan of Battlestar Galactica but beside this point, I’m the right fit for this book. I can’t wait to buy it!
    Also, I’m reading many books with strong heroines and it’s just what I want. It’s so much better than just heroines looking from afar what’s happening.

    • Wendy Darling

      Agreed. Girls who take action are usually much more interesting to read about than girls who just wait around to be rescued. ;)

  10. Lexie

    Fabulous review! I’m so excited for this one. Honestly, while I know there are negative reviews out there, 90% of my friends who’ve read it are absolutely in love. And since I love kick-ass heroines that don’t make me want to facepalm every few pages, realistic Sci-Fi in YA, and post-apocalyptic thrillers, I definitely think I’ll be joining the fan club.

  11. Rachel

    Loved your review Wendy. As I said on GR I think I ticked all the boxes on who would like this story. Also, I met Dan Wells last week and he seemed dark and twisty in all the best ways, so I’m even more anxious to start this. I must read Feed and Deadline. I keep forgetting about those books.

    • Wendy Darling

      “Dark and twisty in all the best ways” sounds like fun, hah! I think you might enjoy this one, Rachel. I hope so, anyway. :)

      FEED and DEADLINE are definitely more serious and grim, but they’re among my favorite books of all time. Something about the this book reminded me a lot of those, even though they are very different, too.

  12. Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings

    You don’t have to convince me, I read this and loved it. I loved the blend of sci-fi and dystopian. Kira was awesome and I have to admit I sure didn’t see the big twist coming. This book just lacked about of detail in the world building but you are right fan freaking tastic!

    • Wendy Darling

      Awesome! So glad you loved it, Heidi. I guessed the two big twists, but you know what, I enjoyed it anyway. :) I didn’t mind the few faults it had either, since so much was done so well. Can’t wait to compare notes with you on book two!

  13. A Canadian Girl

    I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this one, Wendy, so I really liked that you listed who you think would like Partials. I’m not big on post-apocalyptic books but I love heroines that are strong and as someone in the sciences, enjoy science-y books if they’re believable.

    Have you seen the trailer for this? It’s so well done. I thought it was an actual commercial for a second.

    • Wendy Darling

      I haven’t seen the trailer yet! Thanks for the heads up, I’ll have to look for it.

      I’m glad the review was helpful, too. I just felt kind of bad seeing the more middling reviews that were popping up, so I thought I’d try and narrow down the type of person who might like it. :) Hope you end up enjoying it if you decide to give it a go.

  14. The Sagacity Quest

    Eep! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed this book, Wendy! My sister is currently reading it now. I can’t wait till she finish it because you review, like Sam said, is giving me the push that I need. Also, the way you listed the types of people you think would like this book is a very smart idea. I love it. I’m not into medical thrillers but I’m willing to give this one a try.

    FABULOUS review, Wendy.

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks SQ! I am dying for more people to read this, hah. It’s so great you and your sister are reading it one after the other so you can discuss it with each other. :) Can’t wait to see your review!

  15. Sam

    Re-reading your review is giving me the push I need to get round to this soon – though I am currently in battle with a bunch of Netgalley expiration dates that I HAVE to beat. ;) But once I am done with those, I will get started on this! It sounds like my type of book. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Ooo, Sam! Hurry up and meet Samm. :D

      I sympathize with the TBR pile, though. My nightstand and my “galleys” Kindle folder look at my reproachfully every time I leaf through non-review books.

  16. Flannery (The Readventurer)

    Sometimes I feel like when you are writing your review, you are evilly thinking, “how can I remind Flannery to read this and stop sucking at life?” And evil you knows that all you have to do is mention BSG.

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, when my “dude, you have to read this!” prodding over IM doesn’t work, I have to resort to drastic measures. Lynds wrote a fantastic review of this book that mentioned the BSG similarities, too. Hurry up and read it already!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh oh, but which two categories? And I’m confident you can squeeze in anywhere, Missie. ;) I think you may find a new book boyfriend, too. *ahem*

  17. A. Knight

    I adore the way you broke up this review, because you’re right: I have been seeing a mixed-up batch of reviews for this one. I have this sitting in my kindle, and I think I meet up with most of the requirements to really enjoy this book. Loved this review!


    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks Asher! I thought the list might help readers who might be undecided about reading it. I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of it when you finally read it. :)

  18. Mimi Valentine

    I love how your review makes me super excited to get my hands on this one even though I actually JUST did! x) Now I can’t wait to start it! And even though some of the things that YA heroes and heroines do nowadays are really unbelievable (I probably wouldn’t act half as intelligent LOL), I actually kind of love the whole teenagers-acting-mature thing — it makes me feel proud to still be a teen! ;)

    Amazing review as always, Wendy! I love reading about the science-y girls too! :) <3

    • Wendy Darling

      Hee hee, then grab it off the shelf, Mimi! Yeah, the teens in this book are super advanced, but I liked them, so suspending disbelief there was okay with me. Plus the author backs up their by giving them specific behaviors that were plausible.

      Anyway, hooray for smart girls! Hope you love it as much as I did, sweetie. :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh good, I’m glad you loved it Andrea! And I’m glad to hear it works for someone who doesn’t consider herself a fan of sci fi or medical mysteries too, I was just trying to puzzle out who this book’s audience was, since I’ve seen some more middle reviews. Anyway, a good book is a good book, and I’ve sometimes been pleasantly surprised when I branch out of my usual genres. Glad it happened for you with this book. :)

  19. Amy

    Awesome review! I really need to get this book. It sounds like a book I would absolutely love. I do believe I fit into all of the above mentioned categories.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, please do give it a try, Amy! It sounds like the book fits your criteria, hah. I thought it was really entertaining, and a great start to a series.

  20. Candace

    I keep seeing good reviews for this but yet have felt a little wary of it. I love when they back things up with science in a way that makes it feel believable but yet when it’s so believable it tends to freak me out a bit! I’m sure I’ll cave and give this one a go though so I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  21. Julie@My5monkeys

    Great review and as a BSG fan I liked this aspect and loved that it was light on romance and all about the science and kick butt girl.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m so glad you liked it too, Julie! I thought it had the exact right amount of romance in this book, too…but I’m hoping for more in the second. :D

  22. Jenny

    Ooooo I do love a good butt-kicking heroine! I’ve heard Kira is pretty awesome, so I’m excited to meet her:) And I’m definitely willing to suspend belief on some of the science specifics as long as I’m being entertained and they don’t make me go “what?” Really looking forward to this one, thanks for the review Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      This one is definitely entertaining, Jenny–lots of great action sequences in addition to the more sciency stuff. AND a great potential love interest. *ahem*

  23. Truly Bookish

    Awesome review. I just finished this and agree with you wholeheartedly. This is one of the more sci-fi dysotopian books I have read in awhile and I loved it. I met Dan Wells last week when he was on tour and he is really cool and funny. Looking forward to the sequel.
    Truly Bookish

    • Wendy Darling

      I hear Dan Wells is awesome at appearances–that’s so cool you got to meet him! I’m glad you liked this too. Now where the heck is book two?

  24. starryeyedjen

    Oh, man, Wendy, I am ALL of those people! Why haven’t I read this yet? It’s not like this is the first time I’ve heard of it, but sometimes, I think I’m subconsciously waiting to see what you think of something before giving it a try. :P Guess it’s a good thing I haven’t gone to get my copy of Spell Bound yet, huh? :D

    • Wendy Darling

      I don’t know why you haven’t read this yet either! Heh. But I’m glad the review is helpful, I really want to know what you think of it.

      And um, yes, hurry up and read SPELL BOUND, too. Lots to discuss. o_O

  25. Sophia

    I love how you listed the types of people you think would like this book, Wendy! I like post-apocalyptic books, and butt-kicking heroines are definitely up my alley, so I think I’ll have to pick this one up soon. :) I’ve heard really mixed things about this book, so I’ve been hesitant to read it. But science fiction is usually my type of book. Thanks for the awesome review, Wendy!

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay, I’m glad the list was helpful, Sophia. :) It’s a very sciency YA book, so I think people who aren’t so used to that or don’t like medical/science talk probably won’t enjoy it as much. I hope you end up liking it!

  26. Kayleigh @ K-Books

    Great review Wendy. I got this for review last week and I cannot wait to start it. Hopefully I’ll be starting it in the next week or so.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ooo, can’t wait to see what you think of it, Kayleigh! Didn’t you love FEED, too? If so, I think you’ll love this. :) Although there are no zombies, of course.