Series: The Partials Sequence #3
Published by Balzer & Bray on March 11, 2014
Genres: science fiction
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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 » Kira gently and officially ended things with Marcus after they were reunited. The strange ramping up of her feelings for him again felt manufactured. Kira’s relationship with Samm was so much more developed and heartfelt, even if she thought she might never see Samm again, it was so sudden and odd to see her throw herself at Marcus. « Hide 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.
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.