By Dan Wells
A Review by Eric Allen
I have been totally blown away by every single book that Dan Wells has written. I don't know where he came from all of a sudden, but in the last 4 years he's written 5 extremely good books. And as writers should, he gets better with every book that he publishes, expanding his ideas, fixing things that didn't work, and improving upon his skills as a storyteller. If you have not read I Am Not A Serial Killer yet, go buy it or check it out of the library NOW, you do not know what you are missing. Even if supernatural murder mystery is not your thing, it is written so well, with such an amazingly compelling character that even those who do not like the genre will be sucked into it.
Anyway, Partials. Having finished his John Cleaver trilogy, and the suitably epic A Night of Blacker Darkness, which is only available in digital format and comes highly recomended by me if you've the means to read it, Dan Wells has started a new series with Partials. It is a far cry from his previous novels in terms of genre, instead of horror and suspense, he's tried his hand at dystopian science fiction. Where other writers tend to stumble when switching genres from their previous fare, Terry Goodkind
comes to mind, Dan Wells has given us a spectacularly well written story in a very well crafted world, with great characters.
Eleven years ago the Partials, genetically engineered super soldiers created by the US government rebelled. They released RM, a virus that wiped out the human race in a matter of days, leaving less than one half of one percent of the population alive with natural immunity to it. The American survivors have gathered on Long Island, ever vigilant for further Partial attacks, but none have come. They stay on their island, content to let the Partials have the rest of the world, not knowing if there are any other human survivors anywhere else in the world.
RM still exists. It is everywhere. And in eleven years not a single baby has been born with the natural immunity to it. To ensure the future of humanity, and produce children with immunity, the Senate has introdued the Hope Act. This requires every woman of eighteen years to get pregnant as quickly as possible and stay pregnant as often as possible. Though there are some who truly believe in the Hope Act, and see it as saving humanity from extinction, most women feel that they are being treated as little better than cattle. This sentiment has given rise to the Voice, short for Voice of the People, a resistance group standing against the Senate for the human rights of not just women, but everyone.
Enter Kira Walker, sixteen year old medic intern. She became a medic to help make a better future for humanity, and cure RM so that babies never have to die days after birth again, but is abhored by how little she is able to do. She decides that she is going to work out a cure for RM on her own, but when she analyzes a blood sample, she realizes that it really is EVERYWHERE, all around them, and even in them. This gets her to thinking that if the Partials made the virus, then they must have built a natural immunity to it into themselves. She believes that the only way to cure RM is to capture a Partial, and study it to find how their bodies repel the virus.(view spoiler)[Her superiors refuse to allow such a dangerous mission, so with her friends Kira decides to do it on her own. Though they meet with quite a bit of disaster, they do manage to bring back one Partial alive, and though they are highly pissed at her for doing so, the Senate sees the merit in studying him. They give her five days to do her tests before they dispose of the Partial.
Kira does her tests, and Samm, the Partial, begins to open up to her, telling her that he was part of a peace mission sent to offer a truce to the humans because they are dying out as well. Every Partial was built with an expiration date, and that date is fast approaching. She makes several discoveries, but before she can go much further, the Voice attack the hospital, almost killing her. It is deemed too dangerous to continue. Samm is set for execution, despite Kira's protests that she has almost made a breakthrough.
Kira believes that the only way to find the cure to RM is to break Samm out, and head to the mainland to join with the Partials that seek a truce. They do so by starting a riot agaist the senate. Unfortunately, Samm was lying, and once on the mainland, Kira is taken captive. The Partials intend to use her as a test subject to find out how to remove the sterility built into their bodies so that they can begin to reproduce before their time runs out.
As she is being tested, Kira realizes what the cure for RM is, and her friends arrive to break her out. They rush back to Long Island with the cure, hoping they are not too late to stop the remnants of humanity from tearing themselves apart in civil war. (hide spoiler)]
The Good? As always Dan Wells' writing is excellent. He is great at creating characters that you can relate to, who are interesting, and for whom you want to root for. He has created a very realistic and interesting post-apocalyptic world, and he introduces it all in such a way that he never actually explains how everything works outright, which is the mark of a very good storyteller in my book. The danger of extinction feels very real as you read, and you can feel the resentment and tensions that the Hope Act creates. This book flowed along perfectly, it had its suspenseful moments, it's calm moments, and everything else in between, but nowhere did I feel as though the story dragged. Kira pretty much carries the entire story on her shoulders, but she's such a likable character that it works out well. There are some really great action scenes, but most of the story centers around Kira's inner turmoil, her inability to cure RM, her fears and apprehensions of reaching the Hope Act's pregnancy age, and her struggle to figure out what her true feelings toward her likely future husband, and it is really well done. Dan Wells is a master of inner turmoil, and he makes it not just interesting but riveting. There were also a couple very good plot twists, one of which caught me by surprise. It's not often that I don't see a plot twist coming.
The Bad? I can only make one complaint about this book, and it's really not much of a complaint. It's more of a nitpick than anything else. Kira is a teenaged girl, and Dan Wells is not, nor has he ever been. There are a few small instances where her character seems a little off. It's hard to describe. There's a few places where she acts more like a man thinks a teenaged girl should act rather than how a teenaged girl actually would act, if that makes any sense to you. Mostly this comes out in her being a bit overly weepy, too quick to shed tears. Yes, there are women out there who will cry over just about anything, but not many of them. In my experience, women cry a lot less over trivial things than popular fiction would have us believe. Though Kira is a very strong character, she still does feel a bit more like a man's vision of a woman rather than an actual woman here and there. The instances are few and far between, but they are still there. For the most part Dan Wells does show that girls can be strong too and still remain girls, and I'm pretty sure that's what he was going for with her character.
In conclusion this book was freaking awesome. I loved it and highly recomend it. Five stars all the way, and I highly recomend all of Dan Wells' books along with this one. If you like Partials, you should check out A Night of Darker Blackness, and I Am Not a Serial Killer. He also does a podcast called Writing Excuses
with a couple other authors if you are interested in getting tips from published writers on how to make your own writing better. Despite a few very minor problems that are just nitpicks, Partials was an excellent book and I cannot wait for the next in the series. Check out my other reviews.