Cover of Partials by Dan Wells. A young woman with her back to the viewer walks toward a distant city at night

About the Book

Title: Partials
Published: 2012

Cover Story: Start Spreadin’ the News…
Drinking Buddy:
Ve Ver Only Following Orders
Testosterone Level:
100 ccs
Talky Talk:
Something’s Missing…
Bonus Factors:
They Are Not Even Human, Compulsory Pregnancy
Bromance Status:
Summer of My Partial Soldier

Cover Story: Start Spreadin’ the News

Sexy teen back, abandoned New York skyline. could be worse.

The Deal:

It’s the late 21st century. Eleven years ago, most of humanity was wiped out when the Partials (genetically engineered superhuman soldiers) rebelled, and released a supervirus that killed off 99% of the population. Now the Partials have retreated to the mainland, while a small pocket of humanity struggles to survive in what was once Long Island. Society has reverted back to kind of a scavenging existence: the technology is still there, but there’s very little power left to run it. The community is under the control of the dictatorial Senate, with a terrorist group called The Voice occasionally fighting back.

The worst thing is that the deadly virus is still around, and every newborn is susceptible. There is now a 100% infant mortality rate. The youngest human is eleven  years old. But the Senate believes that eventually they’ll find a child with immunity. They just need more children. More. Pregnancy is now mandatory for every woman over the age of eighteen.

Sixteen-year-old Kira is not looking forward to the horrors of losing a baby, especially now that they’re talking about lowering the birth age to seventeen…or younger. She fervently believes that the solution to the plague lies in the Partials, but as a plague baby (a person too young to remember life before the plague), no one takes her seriously. When her best friend gets pregnant, Kira makes a bold plan. She’ll return to the mainland and bring back a real life Partial.

Drinking Buddy: Ve Ver Only Following Orders

Two pints of beer cheersing

Now the Partials are essentially human beings. Yes, they heal instantly, don’t age, and are physically superior, but they look and speak just like us (think Terminator). Kira manages to bring back a Partial named Samm, who is essentially a cute teenage boy, who was kind of minding his own business. And the Senate approves Kira’s request to do medical experiments on him.

Yep, just strapped to the ol’ gurney, an armed guard at the door. This is for science, damn it! He’ll heal right back up. And so what if he doesn’t, the Senate is going to execute him after a few days anyway. And when she discovers that the guards are spending their evenings playing ‘beat the shit out of the Partial’, well, darn it. That’s just too bad.

Kira could have been a strong, likeable character, one who was willing to risk everything for her friends and for humanity. And true, she does mature during the book. But those medical experiment scenes kind of had me rooting for the lab monkey.

Testosterone Level: 100ccs

Yes, there’s a lot of terrorists and explosions and gun play. But it was also kind of sexy, once Kira stopped thinking of Samm and an ‘it’ and started thinking of him as Samm.

Love knows no species (I used to have a t-shirt that said that).

Talky Talk: Something’s Missing…

And I can’t put my finger on it. This book had all the elements for a great end of the world thriller: disease, demi-humans, forced pregnancy…very original. But in the end, I had to force myself to read the last third, and I don’t intend to read the sequel.

Someone in my FYA group commented that the book felt like it hadn’t been fully edited, and that’s as good a reason as any. It was just kind of…blah.

Bonus Factor: They Are Not Even Human

WWII era poster with an inhuman Japanese caricature

So eventually the inevitable happens and Kira realizes that Samm is more useful helping her than he would be preserved in formaldehyde. The Senate, however, does not see things this way. Why is she defending ‘it’? Doesn’t she realize what those things did to her family? They should just kill it. It’s dangerous.

Bonus Factor: Compulsory Pregnancy

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu

Women required by law to get pregnant. Obviously something like that could never ever happen.

Bromance Status: Summer of My Partial Soldier

Well, you certainly taught me a thing or two about friendship, stereotypes, and being accused of treason. Let’s have a beer once the war is over.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor rations for writing this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.