Book Review: Partials, by Dan Wells

Partials (Partials, #1)Partials by Dan Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Partials ended up being a flat-out fantastic read. A superb start to what promises to be a fantastic YA series. But I have to be honest: I was quite frightened for the first third of the book or so, and not in an “I’m so engrossed with this story–what’s going to happen to these poor people” sort of a way. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

The basic plot is thus: a virus pops up that kills 99.996% of the human population, leaving only Partials (cyborg human clones) to rule the bulk of the world. Naturally, there are a few human survivors, who’ve banded together on Long Island and are struggling to find a cure for that virus (which is killing every newborn baby). The fate of the world rests in the hands of these few people. And there’s naturally a lot of in-fighting, so it’s looking more and more like the fate of the world rests in the teen population of these people (since the teens are more open-minded and less prone to making huge power grabs).

Once the book is up and fully running, it fires on all cylinders. There’s action, suspense, betrayals, and plot-twists aplenty. I read the last half of the book in about a day.

I did, however, have some issues with the first third of the book.

Whenever I pick up a book by a friend (DISCLAIMER: Dan Wells is a good friend of mine, if you didn’t already know that), my first feeling is excitement that yet another book has been published by someone I think is awesome. My *next* feeling is dread: what if I don’t like it?

I hate hate hate avoiding talking to a friend about their book if I didn’t care for it. It’s a terrible feeling. I want to like their books. In many ways, I’m reminded of the scene in Funny Farm where Chevy Chase has his wife read his draft, and he sits next to her, watching her. Scrutinizing her every movement and response.

It’s like that.

Of course, with Dan–who’s a successful author living the dream right now–it’s not as vital that I personally love his work. (Even though I have yet to be disappointed by a Dan Wells book, so that’s a great track record). But still, I worry.

And for the first third of the book, I really did worry that this was going to be one of Those Books. I found myself doing other things rather than reading the book. Checking Facebook. Playing on my iPad. Avoiding actually reading it. The book seemed like it was a whole lot of setup and not a lot of action.

I like my books to clip along at a fast pace–especially my YA books. This one wasn’t. It was really gloomy.

But as I said, a third of the way in, suddenly things start picking up. Protagonists start having actual plans and start implementing those plans, and the book picks up speed. By the last third, it’s a total blast. Easily five stars-worthy. But it does take a while to get there, and I can understand the objections I’ve heard about the book.

Still, I think this is a novel that people should give a chance to, if for nothing else than the fact that it’s got one heckuva ending, and it’s the first in a trilogy. I imagine that the setup phase will no longer be necessary in the sequels–it can be All Awesome, All the Time.

How does it compare to other dystopias? Quite well, I’d say. The first third feels a lot like the third book of Hunger Games, with the last third feeling more like the first book. If that makes sense to you, then congrats–you’re a YA fan. 🙂 It wasn’t quite as brutal and bleak as Ness’s The Ask and the Answer. But at the same time, more tech-y.

Does that review make sense? I know it’s rambled a bit, but that’s what you get when you get me reviewing books from time to time. I do indeed highly recommend this one. Just give it time to get to where it gets great. I feel like the payoff is worth the investment.

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