books

The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells

I really hate the term ‘sequence.’ It reminds me of The Human Centipede. That movie ruined so many things.

The three books in the series are Partials, Fragments, and Ruins. They are YA post-apocalypse with elements of science fiction.

First, I’ll say that this book is exactly the kind of thing I’m interested in. What would happen if the world ended? In this series, only 35,000 humans are left after a virus wiped out over 99% of the population. The world is largely uninhabitable because of the things they left behind: fires still burn and nuclear reactors are left unmaintained. I loved these kinds of details. I certainly never thought about nuclear plants doing damage after people are gone!

The only other inhabitants of Earth are an army of genetically-modified soldiers that the humans once created to fight their wars for them. The Partials don’t age, but they also can’t procreate. Having a slave and slave-owner relationship, the two species live separately and there is always fear of an attack.

This is the premise and I loved it.

But, but, but

Things got weird fast.

The first book (Partials) started out slow, but I was pretty into it. The humans can’t have children: the virus from years earlier still lingers and the newborn babies succumb within days. There hasn’t been a child in thirteen years. Kira, our protagonist, believes Partial DNA can solve the problem and she sets out to capture one for study. OF COURSE she falls in love with him, which was no surprise. The humans want to kill the captured Partial, Samm, so Kira sneaks him back to his base, where his leader captures Kira in turn. The Partials are beginning to expire and they need to study the humans to find a cure for their own problem. In the process they learn Kira is actually a Partial! Then her friends rescue her and she goes home.

I had no real issues with this first book. I loved the details, the characters were diverse, and the issues faced seemed relevant. A genetically-superior species created in a lab?? It really doesn’t seem far off. But, a lot of things seem ridiculous. Kira escapes a lot of situations where she should die. “It’s a BOOK; it doesn’t have to be realistic.” True. But there are only so many lucky escapes.

Book two (Fragments) was good, but didn’t leave much of an impression. Kira teams up with a hermit named Afa, Samm, and another Partial named Heron to find the labs that created the Partials, hoping to discover a cure for both the human virus and the Partial expiration. The labs are in Chicago and Denver, a long walk from New York through the deserted country. I again loved the details: reactors and fires in Texas have left the Midwest full of toxic winds and acid rain. My favorite part was when they arrived in Denver to find a small settlement of survivors – and their children. Kira falls to her knees. It is wonderful.

[I would have been more interested to know how Afa had survived for thirteen years alone without being killed, and to see him slowly lose his mind.]

The final book (Ruins) was a clusterfuck of chaotic information. I was expecting Kira and the partials to each find a solution to their problem, but so many things made it complicated. Now, complication is good! But there was so much going on. Suddenly there’s a climate issue, which just seemed inserted randomly, and now the world is covered in dozens of feet of snow. AND a nuclear bomb. AND a “Blood Man” scoopin’ up babies?? TOO MUCH.

There’s a part where Kira is locked on an island by super-partials and she manages to kill her captors and rescue another hostage AND get away with no one noticing?? TOO MUCH.

The ending is fine and not disappointing, but the path to the end is sooooooooo complicated.

So basically, I recommend this series, but it’s weird. The details of the post-apocalyptic world are spectacular, but the plot is all over the place.

6/10

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