My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I listened to Partials as an audio book during the trip to and from a summer vacation. The drive was eight hours to and from, and the book itself was around ten hours. When I got home from the trip and unpacked, I found I needed to listen to the last two hours of the book right there and then, rather than wait to finish it during my daily commutes like I normally do.
This happens rarely for me.
Partials is a story about a teenager who has grown up in a world where humans are an endangered species and tries everything in her power to change that. An engineered plague killed over 99% of the world’s population. A little girl at the time, our heroine, Kira has grown up only knowing stories of the decadent world full of working cars, electricity, and babies. The virus has effectively made the human race sterile. No baby born lives past two days thanks to it and the provisional government that rules the survivors of the plague don’t know how to fix it, except to keep having more babies, hoping that one of them will be born immune.
To make things worse, the creators of the plague, Partials, are still out there in the world. Partials were weapons, genetically engineered super-soldiers used by the former US to fight a war, until those weapons turned on humanity. To make things even worse, the society of some forty thousand human survivors is slowly starting to implode, threatening to break out into a civil war.
And Kira needs to stop it all.
What I love about this series is that it is a young adult series where there are consequences. Our main character is a teenager, certainly an exceptional one, but a teenager without the wisdom to see the full consequences of her actions. While readers will be able to agree with her intentions, and know how rash and unprepared her actions are, readers will not have to suspend their disbelief when the characters experience the fallout of their decisions.
Too many times have I read young adult series where the children are effectively smarter and more capable of the adults simply because the adults are too stubborn, too short-sighted, or because of some other contrived notion. That the children take risks and ultimately those risks pay out simply by virtue of the characters being the heroes of the story. That is not to say this is a tragedy or that Kira is in any way incapable but instead Kira both succeeds and fails in a realistic manner given the situation.
The second thing I enjoyed about this novel were the questions it is raised. Say you were in charge of the lively-hood of the last 40,000 humans on earth. A virus is killing off every baby born within two days and researchers just don’t have access to the medical technology needed to fix the problem. What would you do? Institute mandatory pregnancies in a hopes of creating a baby that is immune? What about civil rights and liberty? When does the needs of the specie out-weight the needs of the individual?
Science fiction. Post-Apocolyptic. Young Adult. Thought Provoking Themes. Add onto that interesting and mostly realistic action sequences and a healthy dose of politics, conspiracy, and science, and you’ll think you’ve accidentally started reading a Mira Grant novel.
Dan Wells has created both an interesting cast of characters as well as the beginning of a hopefully entertaining series. The first novel leaves tantalizing story hooks that will likely leave the reader wishing the second book was already available (and if you’re reading this review and the second book is, count yourself lucky!)