Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Partials Book Review

 Author: Dan Wells. Release date: 2012. Publisher:  Balzer + Bray. ISBN: 9780062071040.

Annotation: In the year 2076, the world has been decimated after the Partials, genetically engineered super soldiers, rebelled against their human creators with a deadly virus known as RM. Now the human race is on the verge of extinction as every newborn in the survivor settlement of East Meadow on Long Island succumbs to the virus. Sixteen-year-old medic Kira Walker is determined to find a cure for the virus, even if it means capturing and studying a Partial to do it.
Personal thoughts: I was a bit worried that this novel would be irritatingly similar to other dystopian books I’ve read recently when I heard what it was about, but was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. Although I definitely recognized some concepts from other popular books, TV shows or movies, the overlap didn’t bother me. In fact, I found the author’s take to be fresh and interesting. One of my favorite parts of the novel was the presence of strong, intelligent female protagonist, Kira. Not only is she described as beautiful, she is also very smart, explaining the science of her research to the reader and giving teen girl’s a positive role model who is proud of her knowledge and uses it for a purpose she believes in. I’m looking forward to seeing how Kira develops in the following installments, and can’t wait to read Fragments when it’s released in 2013.

Plot summary: The year is 2076, and the world has been decimated after the Partials, genetically engineered super soldiers, rebelled against their human creators. Having replaced the world’s armies, humans were unable to defend themselves when the Partials launched their attacks. It was a biological weapon, a deadly virus known as RM, that managed to wipe out 99.9% of the world’s human population. The Partials retreated after the RM plague and haven’t been seen for eleven years, but now the human race is on the verge of extinction as every newborn in the survivor settlement of East Meadow on Long Island succumbs to the virus. The survivors themselves are inexplicably immune to RM, but the inability to produce new generations threatens to put the final nail in the coffin that was humanity. In response to this overwhelming problem, the government of East Meadow created the Hope Act: a law that requires all women age 18 and over to be pregnant at all times. Sixteen-year-old Kira Walker was only five when RM was released, but she still remembers a time before every infant died within hours of birth. Kira works as a medic in East Meadow hospital’s maternity unit. Everyday she helps her fellow scientists try to discover a cure for RM by studying the newborns before they quickly die. When her best friend Madison becomes pregnant, however, Kira is determined that her baby will live. Convinced that the answer to curing RM lies in the physiology of the Partials, all of whom are immune to the virus, Kira sets out for the deserted island of Manhattan with one mission: to bring a live Partial back to East Meadow and find a cure.
Review: Continuing the dystopian craze that seems to have taken over young adult literature is Dan Wells’ Partials, the exciting and well-written first installment in a new post-apocalyptic series for teens. A cross between Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, Battlestar Galactica and Terminator, some common ideas (i.e. the revolting robot/machine, world-ending plague, totalitarian government, etc.) get a fresh and interesting take in this novel. From the beginning, it is clear that the Partials, the human race’s enemy number one, are going to have a role in curing the deadly RM virus. Unraveling exactly what that role will be is one of the most intriguing parts of the story. The author does an excellent job of creating an action packed plot, making Partials an ideal recommendation for male readers who want something exciting. Teen girls will also find a lot to identify with in Kira, the smart and dedicated scientist who is determined to save the life of her best friend’s unborn baby. Unlike other dystopian novels, and young adult novels in general, the romantic part of the novel takes a bit of a backseat to the rest of the story. Readers might pick up on a potential future love triangle, but the book isn’t particularly lovey-dovey, adding to its male appeal. Overall, Partials is an enjoyable and interesting beginning to a series with lots of potential. The sequel, Fragments, is set to be released in 2013.

Genre: Science-fiction
Reading level: Grade 7+

Similar titles: Eve by Anna Carey, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Legend by Marie Lu, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Divergent by Veronica Roth.    
Themes:  Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, plague, genetic engineering, survival, pregnancy, oppression, rebellion.

Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, VOYA, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times.
Series Information: First installment in Partials series. Second novel, Fragments, set to be released in 2013.  

Discussion questions:
-      Why do you think the Partials rebelled against their human creators? Do you think they were justified?

-      Do you think the Hope Act was right or wrong? Why?

-       Do you think the way Samm was treated was humane? Why or why not?

-     Why do you think the Senate chose Kira to study Samm?

-       What do you think the last line of the novel means?

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