Book Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Posted February 24, 2013 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Partials by Dan WellsPartials by Dan Wells
Series: Partials Sequence #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28th, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 468
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what’s left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them–connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulsepounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question–one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

3 Stars

Despite a slow, very slow start and characters that were not the most engaging in the world, toward the end, Dan Wells did manage to convince me. This is a good story. But perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that it is a great set up for a series.

It should be said that Partials is perhaps one of the more original dystopias out there. It’s a truly frightening post-apocalyptic world and has the necessary world building to make it semi-realistic. Perhaps the thing most hard to believe is how the people did still let themselves be controlled by the Senate. All things considered, though, this is a nitpicking issue.

The medical mumbo jumbo wasn’t the most interesting. This is probably a personal preference, so bear with me, but I found the sections where Kira is running tests on Samm, the Partial, to try to find a cure or at least study the disease, incredibly boring. By no means am I a med student, but I also found it extremely farfetched and hard to believe. This is what ultimately kept me from being fully convinced by the book for so long.

So there was a huge plot twist which was really good and after that the story really had me convinced and intrigued. Sadly this reveal only happened at about 80%. And sadly I did have it figured out way before it happened. But that last 20% was really engaging and intriguing. What I liked most about it was that after the reveal took place, I finally felt a bit of an emotional bond to the main character, Kira. Before that point, she felt so static. She was determined for sure, but that was about the only descriptor I could think of for her character. And after this reveal, I finally saw more of her personality. Her character finally got a bit more depth, but yeah, that was a really long wait to get to that point.

Ultimately, though the novel is packed with action and suspense, I did miss those more subtle moments of deeper characterizations. And it wasn’t just in the main character, but the secondary characters were also very one-dimensional and underdeveloped. (The names were also quite laughable.)

I must compliment Dan Wells, however, for not going the traditional, cliché route of young adult dystopian fiction nowadays by not including romance. In fact, the main character is already in a relationship at the beginning. I like that for being so original, and it did mean that there was more of a focus on the mystery of RM and finding the cure. But this doesn’t mean that I’m not up for some Samm/Kira romancing in the sequel.

Summing Up:

This is an action-packed dystopian read. If you have the patience to muddle through a slow beginning, the story itself is quite interesting at the end. It’s a great set up for a series, and I ultimately think I’ll like the sequel better since I think, I hope, we’re past the medical bits now.

Recommended To:

Fans of suspenseful, plot-driven dystopian fiction.

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8 responses to “Book Review: Partials by Dan Wells

  1. Yeah, I agree Debby, the beginning of Partials were so slow and not really engaging.
    As for Kira and Marcus’ relationship, I didn’t really feel their love for each other because they were already in a serious relationship in the beginning of the book. (That also means I wouldn’t mind so much if Samm and Kira got together in the end.)
    Overall, great review Debby! (:

    • True, their relationship was very distant and not endearing, but I liked that there wasn’t too much focus on the romance because there were so many more important things to deal with. But I also think this was another great set up: because you clearly felt that Kira and Marcus were drifting apart, and he just didn’t understand her that well anymore. So I’m guessing in Fragments, there’ll be more hints to Samm/Kira, and that relationship will be the heart-stealing one. 🙂


  2. Good to know the beginning is slow because when that is the case I just dropped the book! I’m kind of tired of reading series because by the time I get to the next book my initial interest has faded. But if I see this book at the library I will definitely grab it.

    • Yeah, I think I would advise most people who are interested in this series or a good dystopian series, to start when the sequel is out, which, incidentally is today. I think the sequel is probably essential. If I’d have had to wait a year after finishing Partials, I don’t think I would have been motivated at all to read the sequel.

  3. While I always find it disappointing to hear that a book’s characters aren’t the best they could be, and that it wasn’t entirely engaging, I’m always on the look-out for an interesting dystopian premise. Action and suspense are always, I’ve found, important elements in creating a viable dystopian novel, so to hear that Partials has those things is excellent. And it’s definitely always exciting to hear that there’s a good lead-in to the sequel—Second Book Syndrom is less likely to be an issue, I’ve found.

    • Yeah, I’m the same – for a really good dystopian world, I’m willing to muddle through a lot. And Partials definitely has enough action and suspense. And yeah, I think the likeliness of middle book syndrome is much less in this case, so that really gives me hope! I’ve heard from a friend that the characters are also more developed there and that there’s less pseudo-science. So definitely excited!