Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Partials (Partials, #1) by Dan Wells

Rating: 3.5/5

Dan, Dan, Dan. You know I love you, but who told you to make your protagonist a teenage girl? Was it your publisher? It was your publisher wasn't it. "You'll sell more copies if you write for that demographic." And you probably will. But is it really worth undercutting what might have been a truly excellent series?

I really liked this book, except for the parts that I didn't. Wells seems to have done some homework for his new demographic and covers all the basics, but without enthusiasm. Multiple love interests - check (sort of). Determined, smart and reckless teenage heroine - check. But her relationships are absolutely flat and her feelings about them are barely noted (compared to other books in this category). And the lack of sheer horror about the Hope Act, even by those characters who do protest it, is a dead giveaway that Wells does not have a clear idea of women's perspectives. Add to this all the predictable, canned dialogue, and I just can't give this book more than 3.5 stars, even though I love dystopias and liked the plotting and pacing of this book.

I am intrigued by the Partials, their society and how they work. Although neither a pandemic viral apocalypse nor artificially created human look-alikes are new ideas, I don't think I've ever seen them placed together before. At first it looked like Wells might not have done any scientific research to make his virus plausible, but eventually things were explained well enough for me. It's hard to remember while reading this book that it's set about 60 years in the future - aside from a few new pieces of tech (Partials notwithstanding), the world we are shown seems like it ended in 2012, not 2065. This doesn't jive with the exponential rate of technological increase we've seen over the past century.

There are a few other plausibility issues with this book, a lot of them centering around the behavior of the human survivors. I have a hard time anyone could accept the Hope Act (constant forced pregnancies) as the only chance for the survival of the human race, and never tried to do what Kira and her friends eventually did. If you're desperate enough to turn women into breeding stock - which is so horrifying and brutal I can't believe all those women agreed to it - surely they would try anything and everything else you could think of? I have a few more nit-picky things I won't mention, but which I also just can't bring myself to overlook. Side note: we get it Dan, kudzu is everywhere.

I'm probably being more critical than I would normally be because I like Dan Wells' John Cleaver trilogy so much. Partials could have been so much better if he'd only stuck to what he was good at, a young man's perspective.

See my review of Fragments (Partials #2) by Dan Wells