‘Partials’ is the first book in a Young Adult post-apocalypse series by Dan Wells, and it is a phenomenal five-star read from start to finish.
In this grim vision of the future, humanity has been nearly wiped out by Partials, genetically engineered super-soldiers. When they rebelled, they released the RM virus, killing most of the human population. Now what’s left of humanity is hiding out on Long Island, trying to hold a fragile government together. Meanwhile, Voice of the People rebels object to the Hope Act, which requires every girl to become pregnant at the age of 18 in the hope of having a baby immune to RM. Without exception, every single baby born since the RM plague was unleashed has died.
Kira, a young medic and aspiring researcher, is obsessed with finding the cure for RM. More so once her best friend becomes pregnant. When Kira and her friends capture a Partial against all odds, the government agrees to let her study it. “Its” name is Samm.
‘Partials’ is a high-stakes, high-tension read. There’s a lot going on — a rebellion, research, a romance — but Kira drives through it all with a single-minded purpose. She is an incredibly strong and motivated protagonist. For example, she loves her boyfriend Marcus, but doesn’t want to marry him and have children (children who will die without a cure) just because the government forces her to. Many writers mistake “strong female protagonist” for “girl with a gun.” Kira is a medic and she has some military training, but her main strength is strength of character.
The secondary characters are also developed well. It’s a cast of diverse personalities, with everyone from a borderline Fascist officer to a Voice sympathizer. It’s also racially diverse — ever notice how only white people ever seem to survive the apocalypse? — with Kira herself being Indian.
And then there’s Samm. Samm arrives late in the plot, after the first half of the book. It’s interesting to see Kira’s scientific curiosity struggle with her sense of ethics. The development of their relationship is fun to follow. It’s also a relief to see a YA female protagonist who doesn’t drop everything and forget about saving the world when she sees the hot new guy. There’s a romantic subplot, but it’s not with Samm as one might expect.
When we talk about books we don’t want to put down, we mean books like ‘Partials.’ ‘Partials’ is unpredictable, with some truly shocking plot twists and well-written action. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy. This is a series to look out for.