I don’t often read YA, but when I do, I read Dan Wells. His writing is just so accessible to younger and older readers alike. So when he approached me a year ago about reading a draft of his newest novel–a dystopian SF titled PARTIALS–I jumped at the chance.
You read that right. I’ve been sitting on a draft of this review for a year. For the sake of full disclosure, I am one of Dan’s alpha readers. He shoots me his stuff well in advance and asks for my feedback. Honestly? I was worried about it. It’s not that the draft wasn’t good–it was–it’s that for me the difference between PARTIALS being good or excellent hinged on some pretty big concerns for me. The mark of a great author is one who can take feedback and make that story into something everyone should be reading.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of how each of my comments was doubtlessly met with Dan Wells’ tears of pure joy. I won’t tell you how the inspiration behind my comments made the final version of PARTIALS–the one you should be buying RIGHT NOW–one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. No. I’m faaaar too humble for that. Plus I’d be lying. Kinda. Maybe. Not really.
The important thing is that PARTIALS really is one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. Why? It would be my pleasure to tell you.
PARTIALS takes place in a future where a deadly virus, RM, has killed off 99% of the world’s population. Those that survive are unable to have a child that lives for more than a few days. The “Partials” are created beings that the humans made to fight their wars for them…and then these soldiers rebelled and released the RM virus. It’s a bleak world. All human females 18 and older are required to get pregnant and have children with the hope that one of them will be immune and live.
The PoV of the novel is Kira. She is one of 40,000-ish humans alive on the planet (as far as they know). She is also a promising medic and researcher. She takes it upon herself to do what no one has been able to–cure RM. The novel is told in 3rd Person Limited, and Kira is the only PoV. Dan does an amazing job of helping the reader really understand Kira. Her reactions are perfectly believable, as is her youthful enthusiasm in a world with no real hope. The side characters are all fleshed out as well as needed, though I will say it’s hard sometimes to remember the ages of them all. My only real complaint is in regards to the adult characters. They all are pretty flat.
PARTIALS is longer than most YA novels, but the pacing just flows along. Remember, I’ve read this book twice now, and the pacing didn’t lag at all upon a second read. In fact, it was even better. Dan throws some twists in that less experienced readers will love, and more experienced readers will enjoy for how well they are executed. The themes of choice, lost youth and freedom are perfectly pitched to the feel of this novel.
And then there is the ending. I loved it. PARTIALS has the perfect mix of success and failure to give a reader the satisfaction they need, and then the need for the sequel.
I don’t know what else I can say. PARTIALS more than deserves a spot on your bookshelf, and it would be just criminal to not do your civic duty and buy it.
Plus I have a cameo in it. What else could you want?
Recommended Age: 14+
Language: Very little, and never strong.
Violence: Yeah, but it never is “shock-value” or full of gore. Dan is more of a suspense type of writer than going right for cheap violence.
Sex: Talked about a lot. Remember, all females are required to get pregnant. It’s on all their minds. But there are no scenes.
No, seriously. Stop reading the review and buy the book: