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Sci-Fi Review: “Partials” by Dan Wells

In Books/Authors, Movies/TV, Pop Culture! on July 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

Dan Wells wrote a novel just for me when he penned “Partials,” the first book in his Partials series.  This science fiction novel has three things I swoon for: a post-apocalyptic setting, bioethics and virology. Seriously, I can’t get enough of medical fiction!

The world is over.  After the Partials, biological machines created in the perfect likeness of humans, rebelled against their makers, a potent virus called RM destroyed more than 99 percent of the population and continues to kill all babies within days of birth.  Now, 11 years later, a “plague baby” named Kira Walker is determined to cure the virus and stop humanity’s extinction before her fragile society tears itself apart.  Aided by her adopted siblings and reluctant boyfriend, Kira faces down the elements, the enemy and the government on her quest to find the cure where no one else will look.

Partials, science fiction, YA science fiction, sci-fi, hard science fiction, medical fictionOne of the most alluring aspects of “Partials” is its complex female lead, a 16-year-old girl who never had a childhood.  Growing up in the apocalypse is hard; weapons training is more important than history lessons.  Kira is a brilliant and promising medical intern sick with frustration at science’s inability to cure the RM virus that is slowly driving humanity extinct.  She has to balance her desire to fix the world with the realities of human politics, a tension Wells etches into the city immediately after showing Kira’s intense reaction to watching a newborn die.

Humanity’s ruling Senate passed the Hope Act, a bioethics nightmare that forces women 18 years and older to get pregnant as often as possible to maximize the chances of producing a child resistant to the RM virus.  Kira sees the law isn’t medically working, but the political system is against her and society is divided about the measure.  Kira herself wrestles with these bioethical questions.  How far can you sacrifice freedom for safety?  Is personal freedom affordable when species extinction is a threat? Who can control your body?  What makes a human “human”?

“Partials” explores the popular (and often tiresome) sci-fi theme of forcible impregnation, examining its social effects.  I appreciate that Wells shows the internal debates realistically, writing a compelling cast of supporting characters with a range of beliefs on each subject.  He shows loyalists who obey without questioning, objectors who question the government’s right to reach into people’s private lives and a range of people still struggling for an answer.  Wells developed each character with their own set of beliefs, doubts and motives – and evolves each throughout the book.

By the end, no one is the same.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reasons to Read:  If you thought this YA sci-fi would drag you through another tiresome love triangle, you’d almost be wrong.  With fascinating medical scenes, vivid bursts of action and a rich history of the apocalypse, “Partials” grabs your interest and never let go.

Favorite Moment: Anytime virology and scientific inquiry are mentioned!

Least Favorite Character: Senator Hobbs

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  1. […] know what to expect from the third book in Dan Wells’s dystopian YA trilogy. The first novel, Partials, introduced Kira Walker, a headstrong nurse trying to cure humanity’s cruelest epidemic in the […]

  2. […] Sci-Fi Review: “Partials” by Dan Wells […]

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