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.