Friday, August 3, 2012

Partials, by Dan Wells

The Setup
Scientists have managed to create an artificial race of beings, called Partials.  They look human, but are substantially stronger, faster and tougher.  So we sent them to win a war for us, which they did quite handily.  And then we proceeded to treat them like crap, because not only were they essentially war veterans, but also because "they're not really people".  So of course they rebel and nearly wipe out all of humanity.  During the process of that rebellion upwards of 95% of the entire human race drops dead as a result of a deadly virus, called RM.  The Partials practically disappeared, leaving the last remnants of humanity to linger on.  Eleven years later nearly all that is left of the human race has gathered on Long Island, mostly trying just to survive.  And the worst part is that over the last eleven years, every baby that has been born dies within 72 hours from the RM virus.

Humanity's days are numbered.

The Review
The very first paragraph of this book had me hooked for purely emotional reasons.  My wife gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy just a few months ago, and on the very first page I'm imagining a world where he would have died just dies after coming into this world.  It's an incredibly unpleasant thought, which is exactly what makes it great fodder for a story like this.

I've only read one of Dan Wells' other books (I Am Not A Serial Killer), but thus far I have found Dan's writing style to result in an incredibly smooth reading experience.

I honestly only have one problem with the book.  The protagonist, a young medic in training by the name of Kira, has decided that she is going to find a cure for the RM virus.  That's her entire goal through the course of the book.  The way this goal is resolved at the end of the book just feels disappointing.  It's incredibly open-ended, which is understandable given that this is to be the first in a trilogy or series, but in the last fourth of the book Dan drops so many new mysteries into the story (and rather intriguing ones at that), such that leaving the initial storyline thread open felt something between unnecessary and aggravating.

Because at that point in the story, I found the various other mysteries to be a lot more interesting.  I would love to be able to go into the next book (Fragments, due out early next year) feeling like Kira was ready to start tackling these other issues, but instead she's still going to be tied to the exact same motivation that she started the first book with.

All that ranting aside, I really enjoyed this book.  And once the next one comes out, my complaints about Partials will most likely be entirely forgiven.  I just wish it was out already.

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