Partials- Dan Wells

Kira lives in a post-apocalyptic East Meadow, Long Island society where what remains of the human race is at risk of extinction because no baby born lives longer than 3 days due to the fatal RM virus.  Eleven years ago, humanity was almost wiped out by war with the Partials, a group of genetically-engineered soldiers, and by the RM virus, which was engineered by the Partials.  When Kira’s adopted sister gets pregnant,Kira goes on a mission to save her sister’s baby hoping to find a cure for RM in the body of a Partial, the humans’ sworn enemies.

I’m going to write this in bullet points because sitting down to write paragraphs just wasn’t working out.  It happens sometimes.

  • This book had me from the first page.  The dedication to “the rule breakers, the troublemakers, and the revolutionaries” put me in the mood for some action and rebellion.
  • The society seemed fairly real to me and it was interesting to think of a post-apocalyptic world that isn’t so distant from our own.  There were a lot of practical considerations that the author actually addressed (where people live, get their clothes, the types of jobs they have).  It was nice to see a well-developed world.
  • The government in East Meadow is focused on two equally creepy goals: controlling the society through whatever means necessary and producing healthy babies through a misguided law called the Hope Act.
  • The Hope Act forces back-to-back pregnancies onto girls as young as 16 all in the hopes that the more babies produced, the better the odds that one will survive.  It poses some interesting questions about the government’s rights in concerns to female bodies and reproductive rights.
  • Also, it seemed really odd to me that women didn’t have more power than they did in this society, given that they were the ones with the power to save humanity from extinction.  I suppose that they’d have been more powerful if the babies actually lived.
  • The science-y parts of the book were awesome.  I was totally excited to read about the virus and Kira’s studies of how it worked.  I imagine it might get too technical for some people.  It is technical in the sense that it is a lot of detail, not in the sense that it is tough to understand.
  • The studies that Kira does of a living Partial named Samm were interesting, too.  It raised some ethical questions in the human subjects testing area.  Do Partials deserve the same treatment as humans even though they aren’t human but they look the same and have intelligence?
  • The struggles between the government and the people are generational in nature and Kira, at times, really encapsulates teenage idealism.  “It felt like the same old attitude she got at the hospital—from every adult, really, a stubborn, brutal insistence on dealing with yesterday’s problems instead of today’s.”

Overall, this was a good read and I would recommend this to those of you who like sci-fi, action, and rebellion.  Also, this would appeal to those who are interested in questions of reproductive rights and ethics of human subject testing.  Word to the wise, though, there will be a sequel or two.

17 thoughts on “Partials- Dan Wells

  1. Hm… bullet point reviews… I should have thought of that! I do so much better with them. 🙂

    I’ve heard great things about this one and it seriously sounds like something that’s going to invoke really good discussions. Especially about the reproductive rights, which is a hot button issue in our society. Looking forward to this one!

    • It felt like a very timely read given the discussions surrounding reproductive rights. I get a little squirmy when I think of the Hope Act from this book… government-mandated pregnancies? It just hits a little too close to home.

    • Well, I certainly recommend it, especially if you like the science-y part of sci-fi… My sense from the book (and some reviews) is that it would either be the technical details or perhaps an inability to connect with the characters that would turn people off of this one. For me, though, it was a fun and worthwhile read!

  2. A great book that comment’s on women’s reproductive rights and how society rises and falls around that is the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, who people tend to think of as a feminist writer, but she’s pretty hardcore sci-fi, alternate reality, what you would call speculative, literary fiction. One of my favorites by her and one of my favorites all time. It’s chilling. The women in her book have very little power, either. And your right, it would seem that a society so badly in need of babies would worship women, but maybe if reproduction starts having problems, its easier to blame women and ostracise them for it.

    • I have been meaning to read A Handmaid’s Tale for a long time now… I know I will like it, just haven’t tracked it down yet. For some reason it has been hard for me to find it when I’ve looked, I need to remember to request it from the library.

  3. This book has received a lot of positive attention, and your review makes it sound fantastic. The reproductive rights issue appears in many post-apocalyptic books, and it’s scary because it does hit close to home as you say. Looking forward to finishing this book sometime. Guess I have some time to read it since there is a sequel on the way.

  4. Pingback: Partials by Dan Wells | mystmusician

  5. Wow! Just finished (over a longer than planned lunch, oops). Definitely one of my favorite Dystopians. It was a library book, but I’m definitely going to have to purchase.

  6. Pingback: 2012 End of Year Book Survey « Don't Take My Books Away

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