Book Review: Partials

Author Dan Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer) makes his Young Adult debut with Partials. In this post-apocalyptic tale, the last remnants of humanity live on Long Island, New York, trying to recover from the virus that nearly brought them to extinction. The RM virus persists, however, killing every infant within days of birth and inevitably driving humans toward the extinction they narrowly avoided in the first place.

(image courtesy of Victor Habbick: freedigitalphotos.net)

Sixteen-year-old Kira is training to be a medic, and she’s determined to find a cure for the RM virus. She believes the answer rests with the Partials—the genetically engineered humans responsible for the virus—but no one has seen a Partial for more than a decade. After seizing control from their creators, the Partials retreated, apparently content to let humanity die a slow death. Kira knows that entering their territory could start another war, but with the human population growing desperate, civil war may finish them off before the Partials or the virus do. Finding the Partials is a suicide mission, and even if Kira makes it back alive, she’ll be charged with treason—with or without the cure.

Partials has an intriguing story and plenty of action to keep readers turning the pages, but Wells also manages to raise some thought-provoking questions in the process. He makes us consider what it means to be human and points out that being human doesn’t necessarily make you humane. Personal freedom, responsibility, and self-sacrifice all come into play, and the different layers of the story are expertly pieced together. Wells doesn’t let the questions get in the way, and he doesn’t try to spoon feed us the answers either. He gives readers the room to answer the questions themselves.

A prequel novella titled Isolation comes out next month. It will provide information on the Isolation War (why the Partials were created) and hint at where the sequel is headed. Fragments is scheduled for release in February 2013.

©2012 Kim Vandel

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