If nothing else I would have to give Delirium points for originality. A dystopic society that has deemed love to be the root of all hardship and suffe...moreIf nothing else I would have to give Delirium points for originality. A dystopic society that has deemed love to be the root of all hardship and suffering has found a way to successfully rid its inhabitants of this tendency through a surgery performed on all people at the age of 18. Lena Halloway is 3 months from her surgery, and a life with a pre-determined husband, job, and number of children - a safe life without pain and suffering. Enter Alex. While my initial thought was typical YA romance plot I was really pleasantly surprised. Here's why:
Oliver really is quite a nice writer. Her writing is every lush and evocative when describing her character's feelings and the quality of the writing really made this book stand out in the crowded field of YA (and the increasingly crowded post apocalyptic/dystopic YA genre).
Not only does Oliver write a beautiful scene she's done two other things that I really appreciate 1. She kept the plot small - which really isn't the correct word, but there are no overarching plots to save the world - it's about Lena's life and her choices 2. Lena is a well developed character. I'm getting really tired of heroines who are able to avoid pain and uncertainty and move throughout the book with ass-kicking certainty in their actions - especially when they're in their teens. Lena's life if turned upside down, and the options presented to her are scary and she has a really hard time with many of the decisions that she's making.
But as with any book there are things that were a little lacking. I'm not sure I totally believe in the society, and some of the characters' actions showed concern that I would say is based on love (ex. Lena's betrothed's mother is overbearing and her interactions with her son regarding his illnesses are in my view born out of love - not the type of love you may want from a parent, but love none the less). You could probably argue this, and maybe I'm nitpicking.
There's another plot line which I'm not sold on, but it's clearly setting up for later books in the series - and there is the expected cliffhanger ending, but lucky for you the second book in the series is already out. (less)
Partials is a creative recipe made up of a dash of ST: TNG, BSG mixed with a little Children of Men and topped off with a liberal dose of Doogie Howse...morePartials is a creative recipe made up of a dash of ST: TNG, BSG mixed with a little Children of Men and topped off with a liberal dose of Doogie Howser, MD
I started out thinking that Partials was Dan Well's first book, and I was ready to give full marks for a creative but flawed debut, but Wells is a seasoned writer and given that my charitable feelings towards the book started to wane. Partials takes place 11 years after a war between genetically engineered soldiers known as Partials and the human race has ended with disastrous consequences.
The human population has been culled to tens of thousands of individuals who have created a colony on Long Island. Governed by a senate, the community is facing extermination from various forces, the deadly RM disease that is killing every unborn child and a rebel faction known as the Voice who want to repeal the Hope Act which states that every woman of a certain age must become pregnant as often as possible in order to try to birth a living child.
Kira, a young medic, feels that she has uncovered a previously unresearched solution to the RM disease and she embarks on a dangerous and illegal mission to find a Partial as they may hold the key to saving the human race.
I just didn’t connect with this book, and while I liked the premise enough to keep reading I never really felt anything for Kira. In fact her ability to solve any problem, come up with solutions to problems outside her area of expertise really annoyed me. Need a disease cured? Need military strategy? Need a nefarious plot uncovered? Kira the 16 year old wunderkid to the rescue!
Kira’s world is really creative and I loved the idea, but despite how much I wanted to I just couldn’t get into it, and when I started to think on it I couldn’t reconcile the details. It’s been 11 years since the downfall of society and the “plague babies” are starting to grow up and take on jobs and adult roles in society. So at 16 we have fully trained medics who can run salvage missions, work in obstetrics and gynecology and be competent virologists. All this accomplished in 11 years?
Based on the average statistic of 2.5 doctors per 1000 people (thanks Wikipedia!) that would mean of 36,000 survivors (all else being equal) you would have about 90 doctors (GPs) who survived. Now also take into account that, let’s say, 1/3 of survivors were children you would have about 60 doctors add in nurses and other medical personnel and we’ll round up to 300 people with some form of medical knowledge. I’m supposed to believe that these people were able to tend to the population now with limited medical care, research a debilitating disease, deal with a ton of pregnancies, create a new curriculum to allow 16 year olds to be up to speed on all of the above fields (because really, specific biology courses start to be offered in or about grade 10, and you don’t even specialize in medicine or virology until post-grad) and teach them?
And to those who would say – they only taught them the info they would need – well really, how would they have known what society would need in time to teach this to the kids? Given their daily tasks how would they have the time to develop this “as needed” education system and then disseminated it to the teachers? We’re currently faced with a fully equipped education system that is graduating kids who can’t do basic math when they leave high school so I don’t see how a society trying to rebuild would be able to accomplish this.
This applies to all the fields – if it was only Kira, MAYBE I could gloss over it as we’re given a possible explanation for her, but we have medics, commanding soldiers, ammunitions experts, and Haru is pretty close to a civil engineer and Isolde a senatorial aide. Given most of the 16 year olds I’ve come into contact with, this level of expertise just isn’t realistic.
So…a lot of my issues with this book would have been alleviated if they just could have changed the characters to somewhere between 25-35, or just omit some numbers and let it be ambiguous. If Kira had been older and forced to have children who didn’t survive it could have been a really powerful way to draw sympathy to her character and form a bond with the reader.
The most interesting parts of the book were those that revolved around Samm and the Partials, and the plot is really thought provoking and in spite of what I didn’t like about the writing and what I feel to be loop holes in the world building Partials is interesting and has a lot going for it. I’m hoping that in the sequel that Wells slows down a little bit and gives voice to his characters reactions to their ever changing world and that he tightens up the parameters of his society – Kira can’t talk about how Madison’s cravings for dirt during pregnancy are normal because of their deficient diet and then go out with Marcus for sushi. (less)