If you’re sick of the same-old dystopian stories hitting store shelves these days, rest easy. Partials by Dan Wells is an action-packed, science fiction adventure of the highest degree — and while it does bear some of the earmarks of dystopian fiction, it is not another cookie-cutter story from today’s “It” genre.
Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the world’s 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. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.
When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.
Partials starts off with an interesting premise, and a chilling faux quote that sets the mood for the rest of the novel to come. Wells layers in science and science fiction to create a top notch and fully-realized futuristic world. And while there are “oppressive government figures” at work, they are not the sole focus of the story — nor are they the sole source of conflict. The greater enemy for much of the novel is the virus RM itself, and the mysterious Partials.
Kira is a gutsy, albeit flawed heroine, who is easy to root for. Her heart is in the right place, so you want her to win — but she’s clearly not perfect, which makes her a more relatable character. Her friends and cohorts throughout Partials are equally appealing — and between them all, every reader should find one character to relate to and root for.
Partials isn’t without its flaws, though. At times, the pacing felt a bit slow — since a lot of time is spent in world-building or on the science. And while the character of Samm is meant to be less than human, his inhuman qualities were still a bit too strong for me to feel much of a connection to him. I’m hopeful this will develop more in the second book of this planned trilogy, but it would have been nice to see Samm have a bit more presence and character development in the first book.
Even with my complaints, Partials is a fun, fast read — and the last page sets things up nicely for a thrill-ride sequel.
Partials is in stores on Tuesday, February 28th. Read a free excerpt here.