Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 28, 2012)
Hardcover: 480 pages
The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade.
Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.
Why, hello, PARTIALS. Thank you for the pleasant reintroduction to YA dystopian novels. You’re not without your flaws, but, still, you have some serious awesome.
PARTIALS had me completely engrossed – from somewhere halfway through the book. The introduction was slow, understandably so, given the intricate world it had to provide a foundation for. But if my beginning thoughts were like “hm, this is interesting,” my thoughts after the first hundred pages were “…okay, sure. Proceed already.” The background info and dialogue made it obvious what was going to happen and the characters didn’t appear dynamic or personable; it was more a matter of just waiting for the “real action” to start rather than truly anticipating it.
That’s not to say PARTIALS isn’t full of action, of course. It is. But the quality of its action corresponds with the plot; when the plot moves, action sprints behind it. When it’s awesome, it’s awesome. When it’s not… it’s not. If you start on flat ground, the action and plotline are like climbing up a tall, 400-page tall hill with occasional dips, thought it ultimately leaves you with a tantalizing cliff. Conversely, the character development is like walking a plateau. There is character development, but it’s the generic, expected kind that moves an inch every 100 pages. Kira may become more open-minded, sure, but I saw that potential from the beginning. What I didn’t and still don’t know is what does she like to do? What are her favorite things? IS she ever selfish? If I had to sum up each character – main, secondary, etc. – I feel like I could accomplish it in three words, one each for: personality trait, history, and role. They’re not dislikeable per se, but they’re also not memorable.
What IS memorable is the world. There was just enough substance to draw me in yet still hints at so much more to come. When I think PARTIALS, I think RM virus, which is what really intrigued me in the later half. Sure, I’m slightly nerdy, but it’s basic science that’s easily understandable and it amplifies the dystopian setting and unique plotline. The novel does seem a bit rushed towards the end, when the action and the scientific discoveries really get kicked up some hundreds of notches, but if that’s what the sequel promises: PLEASE GIVE ME MORE.
For now, having finished PARTIALS a few days ago, when I look at it I see a book that didn’t personally touch me, but subtly swept me along its journey of ass-kicking and world-saving. Original, intriguing, and promising – but not blinding with brilliance. Ramp up the action and plot movement (the twists at the end are great, the beginning-to-middle is fairly predictable), flesh out the characters, and this series just may stomp its way up my list of top YA dystopian reads.
I finished typing up the thoughts up there and realized I completely forgot to mention romance. And, if you know me, romance is like THE reason I live. So romance, while evident in PARTIALS, really takes the back seat for two reasons: 1) again, character issue. If I don’t relate well with the characters (Samm = the only exception right now, though I don’t feel like I know him well enough), it’s hard for me to strongly back their relationships, and mostly 2) romance just isn’t that much of a focus. Or if it is meant to be a key point, I was just too enthralled with other things to really notice. And that’s good, really.
My criticisms might sound harsh but that’s only because I see potential and really, really hope to see it realized. To quote the cover, “the only hope for [my character-loving, dystopian-desiring heart] isn’t human.” (answer: it's more Partials! ;) )
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Bottom Line: If you're in the mood for an unique new dystopian world, check it out. If you're looking for personable characters or exceptional prose, I think you're looking at the wrong book. //shrug
Cover: It's dystopian and YA, I guess. Pretty bland, but I like the colors, especially the fiery clouds.