Book Review: Partials

Published By: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date:  February 28th 2012
Page Count: 468
Buy it at AmazonBarnes & Noble, or IndieBound
Source: library
YA - Post-apocalyptic Science Fiction

No child born in the last fourteen years has lived more than a few days, not since the horrible plague of RM ravaged the country.  The surviving humans have hunkered down on Long Island attempting to eke out an existence and find a cure. The looming threat of Partials, genetically engineered super-soldiers who rebelled against their human creators by releasing RM, keeps everyone confined to the island.  Kira, a young woman training as a medic, cannot watch any more babies die.  As she pursues her own avenues of research, she must confront the fact that what she has grown up believing about RM, the Partials, and the reasons behind them may not be true.

The characters and their interactions were my favorite parts of this book. Kira is full of fire and determination, but she jumps into situations without thinking them through all the way. I admired her heart and persistence, but identifying with her was difficult because she almost willfully ignores the downsides to any plan of action. Marcus was by far my favorite character. Has a quick wit and he is game for just about anything. His love for Kira is real, and although he is a bit on the overprotective side, he is there when it really counts. Haru on the other hand felt less like a 22 year-old than a 72 year-old. I understand his experience was different during the Break, but he really comes across like a  crotchety old man.  As always, Wells keeps the interactions between the characters alternately crackling with tension and bursting with zingers.

My big hang up with Partials, however, was the plot. So much of it read as contrived which ended up making me feel the book was just too long. I have a really difficult time with ordinary 16 year-olds being able to take on adult jobs, and successfully infiltrate and defeat super soldiers who were genetically engineered to wipe out 99.99% of the population. It just felt disingenuous. Also, there were so many different factions in the political landscape of the book that I was almost dizzy trying to keep track of everyone. Partials would have been better perhaps more streamlined or split into two volumes.

This is a good book for exploring the ideas of freedom and totalitarianism and safety. Wells came down heavily on the side of personal freedom (which is great because personally that's where I stand), but it made it too easy to vilify "bad guys."  Had Wells given the bad guys more good points and better arguments, the story would have been a much scarier and unnerving read.

Partials crossed my path because my son basically forced me to read it. He is 16 years-old and Dan Wells is his favorite author. I've read other books that Dan Wells has written and I enjoyed them more than this one.  Although this book was just okay for me you can take my son's word for it that your teenager will probably love it.


Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. But sixteen-year-old Kira is determined to find a solution. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that that the survival of both humans and Partials rests in her attempts to answer questions about the war's origin that she never knew to ask.

Playing on our curiosity of and fascination with the complete collapse of civilization, Partials is, at its heart, a story of survival, one that explores the individual narratives and complex relationships of those left behind, both humans and Partials alike—and of the way in which the concept of what is right and wrong in this world is greatly dependent on one's own point of view.


  1. I have a teenage daughter and I think she'd like this book!


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