Ruins: Review

March 20, 2014 2014, 3.5 star books, dan wells, dystopian/post-apocalyptic, Kim, sci fi or futuristic 30 ★★★½

Ruins: ReviewRuins by Dan Wells
Series: The Partials Sequence #3
Published by Balzer & Bray on March 11, 2014
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Kira, Samm, and Marcus fight to prevent a final war between Partials and humans in the gripping final installment in the Partials Sequence, a series that combines the thrilling action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Blade Runner and The Stand.

There is no avoiding it—the war to decide the fate of both humans and Partials is at hand. Both sides hold in their possession a weapon that could destroy the other, and Kira Walker has precious little time to prevent that from happening. She has one chance to save both species and the world with them, but it will only come at great personal cost.

I really struggled with how I was going to rate this book. Partials and Fragments were two of my favorite reads of 2013. This is also the first series I’ve completed since I’ve started reviewing so there was that component as well. Were my feelings unfairly influenced by how high my expectations were? Ultimately, I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, of the 50 or so books I’ve read so far this year, this is one of my favorites, but I wanted more.

There was much to love. The strong characterization, complex medical breakdowns, viral thrills, and realistic post-apocalyptic terror are all there. Yet there were some very significant issues that weighed down my enjoyment.

For me, one of the main reasons I think this final installment flags some is the large absence of Samm. Ironically, he has more POV chapters in Ruins than in the previous books, but is actually present in the novel less. The intriguing and subtle relationship between Kira and Samm was always one of my very favorite parts of this series. Now separated by a continent, and with several new POV characters in between, I really missed their interactions. The romantic component always took the backseat in this series, but the incredible amount of heart put into such an understated part of the story only served to have that much more of an emotional impact for me. The absence of the intricate and complex interactions between Kira and Samm made this entry ring more hollow than I would have wished.

By far, my largest complaint is that there is suddenly a love triangle component that feels forced. Yes, I suppose technically Kira and Marcus hadn’t actually broken up. But I never for one second even considered this series to have a “love triangle” since it seemed so obvious where things were heading. It seems at the eleventh hour we are suddenly returned to some “Who will she choose?” tension. It felt inorganic to the series. I thought it would have felt so much more in tune with the rest of the other books if View Spoiler » I thought the book was weaker for it.

Just as Fragments expanded upon Kira’s previously sole POV in Partials, Ruins introduces even more characters and more evenly distributes the perspectives. We spend less time with Kira than we ever have. There are so many plot threads and so much going on in this final chapter that I wasn’t even surprised that the ending felt so rushed. It’s not to say that the ending isn’t satisfying, because it is, but all of the disparate plot threads are so suddenly tied together that it feels somewhat empty. I really missed the emotional resonance of the previous books.

Truly, though, I did enjoy Ruins. I really love Kira, Heron, and Ariel, the main female POV characters. Heron, especially, surprised me. Perhaps the dark horse candidate, her development throughout Books 2 and 3 are a delight to behold. Ever fierce, and seemingly loyal only to herself, she’s a character I cannot help but identify with. I love that Heron’s motives are not cut and clear and that she is given a level of ambiguity rarely afforded female characters. I truly do not understand why, but books rarely make me cry. Heron has a scene that is full of such meaning and life that even I choked up. It is not to be missed.

One of the several plusses of Ruins is the ramped up gruesomeness and creep factor. There is a scene so brutal and shuddering it reminded me a bit of that scene in Unwind if you know what I’m talking about. There is an element of wtf-ery not really present in Books 1 and 2, but certainly welcome by me. If you, like me, are a reader who loves a bit of grotesquerie in their fiction this volume will not let you down.

The eerily realistic dystopia is another favorite element of the series. I loved how soberly chilling this future was. It is clearly and understandably laid out by Wells exactly how and why both humans and Partials distrust and loathe the other so much. With our rapidly increasing scientific advances, it’s easy to envision the breakthroughs that lead to the creation of the Partials. With my own understanding of human nature and sociology, it’s not hard to imagine how poorly the Partials would be treated. I shudder at the thought at how easily this could be our future.

But what I loved most of all in this series is its philosophical aspect. I loved that time and again, characters both Partials and humans were challenged to be more than what their nature dictated they be. I loved the overriding theme that there is no destiny than that which each individual carves out for itself, even in small ways, every single day. That purpose is what you make it. That the meaning of life is to give life meaning. In this most poignant of all facets, the book did not disappoint.

I will always look so fondly on this series. I love the abundance of badass, complex women. I love the diversity of the cast. I love that Kira is capable, smart, and brave and I especially love that she is both a POC and a lady scientist. All of the major questions raised are answered. There are no plot threads left dangling. This is still a great series that I strongly recommend for fans of post-apocalyptic wastelands and smart medical sci-fi. It is truly great speculative YA fiction.

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Although nothing to do with my rating, I just couldn’t let the following go by without mention:

The dedication reads: “This book is dedicated to everybody you hate. Sorry. Life’s like that sometimes.” Oh, indeed. I actually laughed out loud.

Also, the final paragraphs of the author’s acknowledgments, the wish for his daughters, is not to be missed.

I truly hope you’ll enjoy this series as much as I did.


kim teal




30 Responses to “Ruins: Review”

  1. Harleen Kaur

    I remember reading Partials a while ago, and I didn’t really fall in love with it. But do you guys think I should give it another chance? Maybe my tastes have changed….

    • Kim

      I’m sad that the love triangle affected me so much! It really drove down the enjoyment of the book for me. :( But I do hope you pick up the series! It’s still a fav of the past year and very much worth reading. And GOOD. I am delighted to hear you voted for ANNE. I could really go for a lovely springtime ANNE reading.
      Kim recently posted…Divergent: a YA film to celebrate

  2. Vivien

    I actually just finished this book. To be honest, I didn’t end up enjoying this as much. I was seriously thrown off by the love triangle. This was such a downer for me because it really ruined much of the book for me. And the extra POVs was just irritating. Actually, I found myself rather irritated with a lot of this book. Which really surprised me because I came away from Fragments really enjoying this series. Yes, that scene is rather…..even for me. I still feel like it’s a 3.5 but for me I’m rounding it down to 3.
    Oh and the end was really….odd. It turned me off as well. :/

    • Kim

      Yeah, the love triangle, particularly how contrived it felt, was a major issue for me as well. I understood the story and perspective that the new POVs were offering and that they were mostly important to the story but it felt like too much, too late in the story, you know? I really enjoyed Fragments as well. It seems that people who liked Fragments were disappointed in this and those who didn’t like Fragments as much liked Ruins a lot better. It’s so interesting to see the disparity of opinion between fans of the series.

      And that gruesome scene? That’s the one you’re referring to? Yeah, serious shudders. Blegh. I mean, I appreciate the horror aspect but it was rough.
      Kim recently posted…spring giveaway: scifi & contemporary bundles

  3. Karen

    That’s too bad it didn’t end better for you. I hate when that happens. I also hate when authors throw in a lot of new POV’s and issues when this is the last book to resolve/answer all the previous things.

    I’m glad that you highlighted the dedication. I love reading them.
    Karen recently posted…Impromptu break…

    • Kim

      Yeah, I was bummed out a bit. :( It just felt like it was too much going on and thrown in there at the very end. Blergh. But it’s still a favorite series and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend!

      And yes, the dedication was too funny. I particularly enjoyed it.
      Kim recently posted…spring giveaway: scifi & contemporary bundles

  4. Pili

    Even though I’m pretty sure the review was spoiler free I skimmed over it a bit because I still need to read it and I don’t want reviews to influence my opinion all that much. I really enjoyed Partials and Fragments and I just cannot wait till I can get time to read Ruins once I finally make way into my pile of Review books!!
    Pili recently posted…Xpresso Book Tours: Across The Wire by Stella Telleria!!

  5. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    I want to read Ruins…buut, to tell the truth, Fragments kind of burned me. I was really bored. I just…I was only interested in the las 100-pages, so that’s like 300+ pages of me yawning and wishing time would go faster. STILL I neeeeed to know who Kira gets together with. I’m not opposed to their being a love-triangle (it’s kind of set up for one). And what?! Not so much Samm? No. What is this. No. -_- The creep factor and the really dedicated world-building is what I really love the series for, though. I just wish the books weren’t so huge.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Do We Have The Right To Criticise Authors?

    • Kim

      If it helps any, the consensus seems to be that people who didn’t like Fragments so much liked this one a lot better. I *loved* Fragments, though. It’s definitely my favorite of the three. This one is also shorter than Fragments by a good hundred pages or so.

      It *really* bummed me out that there’s not a lot of Samm in this one. There are so many different (and new) plot threads up in the air that his story just got crowded out, I suppose. Made me a sad Kimber. :(

      But this is certainly the creepiest of the three so you’re in for a treat there!
      Kim recently posted…spring giveaway: scifi & contemporary bundles

  6. Boyanna

    ha! i finished this one yesterday and all day today i contemplate my thoughts wondering what to write. :) You said everything i wonted to say.
    Lack of Samm and Kira interactions, the unnecessary (and forced) love triangle and the philosophical aspect, all right there with you. But even thought i love how Heron’s story was unfolded she never grew on me that much, and the Partial plague story-line was left unanswered (or i missed something!?).
    Love your review!
    Boyanna recently posted…[blog tour] BROKEN SKIES BY THERESA KAY

    • Kim

      Why thank you, Boyanna!

      Yeah, it was a bit of a bummer this book, wasn’t it? :( I still enjoy the series on the whole. That love triangle really got to me, though! It just felt so contrived. And the Partial plague was answered! It wasn’t spelled out “X is the cause” but rather in a way where you are supposed to put two and two together. I’d tell you but I don’t want to spoil for anyone who read this comment!
      Kim recently posted…spring giveaway: scifi & contemporary bundles

  7. Kate Bond

    Ha. The first book in this series was the first time I ever VIOLENTLY disagreed with Wendy’s opinion of a book, because I HATED it. I think my history of being a huge scifi nerd (I’ve read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep at least six times since I became obsessed with it in elementary school) screwed me over here, because I guessed the big plot twist at the very beginning of the book, and couldn’t figure out why all the book’s characters were too dumb to see it, and then all the other, minor plot things were super obvious to me, too.

    BUT I really wish I’d stuck with the series, and I may revisit it at some point, because SO many people whose opinions I respect just love it, and maybe I was in a bad (or snobby?) mood when I read it. I think there is room for all opinions and tastes and stuff in literature, and opinions can’t really be wrong because it’s all so subjective, but… Well, there’s a very good chance that I actually AM wrong in my disdain for this particular property. Sigh.

    • Kim

      Yeah, I (regrettably) haven’t read a lot of the classic sci-fi so I suppose that helped me here. I also rarely ever see plot twists coming. My brain just doesn’t work that way so when I can actually see the twist I know it must be the SO obvious and am super disappointed. Although, there are times when I do see the twist but I like the story enough that I don’t care like with CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. *shrug* This probably sounds bad, but I’m just not that picky I don’t think. :\ I find that when I really care about the characters I can often forgive any number of other flaws. So I guess I’m a very “character-centric” reader.

      I mean, sometimes it *is* the specific mood you were in when you read a book. It took me a couple of tries to really get into A GAME OF THRONES (but we know you feel about that ha). You know, actually, I tried reading THE GOLDEN COMPASS at least two times before it ever really sank in which is just crazy to me now. I liked Book 2 in this series a lot because there is a lot of post-apocalyptic wasteland exploring on horseback and I LOVE THAT. Give me all the post apocalyptic wasteland books! ALL OF THEM!! I’ve actually been meaning to get to SWAN SONG by Robert R. McCammon for awhile now if you’d have any interest in a buddy read (and anyone else who’d want to join!).

      • Wendy Darling

        Oh, and Kim–it took me a bunch of tries before I finally got into GRACELING, so I get it on the GOLDEN COMPASS thing as well.

    • Wendy Darling

      Heh. We disagree so seldom on books that is somewhat befuddling when it happens! And amusing, tbh.

      See, I guessed the twist as well, but I still enjoyed the book anyway. And I still liked book two, despite a few quibbles. I will concede I haven’t read as much adult scifi as you, though, so comparing YA scifi to adult, the former is usually going to lose out. You’re not alone in your dislike, though–several people who also love Newsflesh that I thought would like this series ending up hating it as well. But weirdly, Kim only had mixed feelings for Newsflesh.

      Someone needs to figure this puzzle out and come up with the perfect formula to explain all our different reactions, because I am confuuuused.

  8. kimbacaffeinate

    I read your first paragraph and stopped. This is one my favorite series and you have me nervous. I will read after I devour it. I am in the middle of hosting a TBR challenge and won’t start this till April first but I will be back Kim.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Gift of Prophecy by Lina Gardiner

    • Kim

      Oh no, Kimba! I seem to be in the minority with my opinion on this. I just really missed Samm’s presence and the post apocalyptic wasteland foraging. Please don’t be nervous! You’ll love it, I’m sure.

  9. Savannah

    I really liked the way this series ended. I think how the science stuff came together in the end really brought the story around full circle.
    Savannah recently posted…Blog Tour: Rock It

    • Kim

      I agree! I thought maybe the “solution” was a bit too predictable but I love this series so much overall that I didn’t mind much. I was super satisfied with the way things ended! I’m glad you liked it too. :)

  10. Wendy Darling

    I loved the first book (obviously!) but like Mel, I also thought there were sections of FRAGMENTS that were very dry. I like it when characters wander around abandoned wastelands foraging for food, but there was SO much of it, hah.

    Your review actually has me very excited to read book three! I’m a bit worried about Marcus (*snooooore*) becoming a thing again, and MY GOD WHY DO WE NEED MORE POVs. Didn’t Mr. Wells read our bookish peeves list? :P But your sweet talk about the gruesomeness, that scene in UNWIND, and reminder of all the things I love about the series makes me eager to pick up this book soon so I can find out how everything ends.

    PS–your mentioning of themes is almost exactly the philosophy behind TERMINATOR 2, hah. Which is one of my favorite films of all time.

    • Kim

      Oh FRAGMENTS was my favorite of the series, but I seem to be the odd one out there. You’ll probably enjoy RUINS a lot more than I did. :) I missed the survivalist portion and the wasteland exploring. And Samm. I really, really missed Samm here.

      I’m excited you’re excited, though! It won’t let you down, I’m sure. Ugh, Marcus. GO AWAY MARCUS. He is certainly funny. I can bear with him because he’s entertaining but you’re so obviously not the “winner” here. Go away. And I actually tend to enjoy multiple POVs on the whole, but here I was annoyed because we get these new character POVs all of a sudden in the final installment and less POV of my favorite (Samm).

      And I don’t mean to be misleading because it’s not like an actual Unwinding, though it is gruesome bodily torture. The similarity was in how much it made me shudder and want to hide under a blanket until the scene was over. I’m grimacing now just remembering it. *shudder*

      You know, I have never seen any of the Terminator movies. I have a problem with movies. I don’t know why, I really don’t, but I just haven’t seen that many movies in my life. I was trying to fix this for awhile by going through Empire’s 500 Greatest list or whatever but I keep getting stuck or skipping some and blah. Like right now, I’m on #383 on that list which is SERENITY, a movie I have actually seen already and I LOVE but have just been putting off watching again for a while now. It’s so weird and I don’t understand it. My film knowledge is so weak. It’s really, really bad. I’ve never even seen ET or The Goonies, for instance. *I know* It’s absurd.

      • Wendy Darling

        Huh. As someone who loves movies (and worked on them), I find this so interesting! I will have to sit you down to figure out why this is sometime. SERENITY is fun for sure, though.

        And I knew what you meant re: UNWIND. Feeling, not exact circumstance. :)

  11. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than Fragments, which I found a bit boring. I agree about Samm! I thought his overall presence in the story felt a little short, but I was so fascinated by the world-building and the true cure for the problems that I didn’t mind. The love-triangle was indeed not necessarily for the story, but I could deal with it. It was at least a little understandable in the situation. Heron was a fantastic secondary character :)
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 242. Gabel & Klam – Elusion.

    • Kim

      Seems like we’re opposites on these books! I *loved* Fragments. I really enjoy post-apocalyptic wasteland exploring. Any book with wastelands is immediately for me. I do agree that it was a bit overlong, and I understand the problems people had with it, but I loved the overall story and characters enough to forgive it.

      The love triangle annoyed me much more than I thought it would. I wish it hadn’t! It just felt soooo manufactured and inorganic to the series. It really distanced me. :(

      My love for Heron is never ending! She’s so complex and wonderful and just ugh. More Heron, less love triangle and I would’ve loved this.

  12. Mary @ BookSwarm

    First off, awesome dedication. Truth.

    Second, I really enjoyed the first book and have the second sitting on my shelf… *sigh* I’ve gotten so bad about only reading the first book in a series. Even if I absolutely love it, unless it drops into my lap and practically forces itself onto me, I don’t generally finish the series. However, now I can read the second and third right in a row! Kira is such a strong, interesting character that I do want to know what happens to her.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Speed Date with Alex: HALF-OFF RAGNAROK by Seanan McGuire

    • Kim

      That dedication was pretty great.

      Ha you are too funny with your series avoidance. :p At least now you can binge the whole series! Yeah, I really love Kira. You’re going to enjoy Heron a lot too when you get to her! I hope you just love the final books. :)