Partials - Dan Wells

I’ll admit, I’m not 100% certain how I feel about Partials. There are some brilliant aspects of the book I really enjoyed, but there were also certain parts that marred my enjoyment of the read.

The first one was the pacing. I don’t know if it was the almost dreary tone of the narration, or the density of the world building slowing it down (or maybe the world building was heavier than I’m used to), or if was just simply slow. But the first half of the book took me ages to read, and I’d certainly passed the 200 page mark before the story truly began to look interesting.

Then we have the omni POV. Whilst the story certainly follows along on Kira’s story only, we were never really given the chance to get inside her head, and due to the pov not being strictly hers, we were constantly ‘told’ of the motivations of all the other characters, too—which meant we were never truly given the opportunity to connect with Kira, or to empathise with any of the characters, so I found myself almost impassively reading scenes that should have been inflicting at least some kind of connection in the reader. I didn’t much like any of Kira’s friends, didn’t like Marcus very much—Jayden and Madison were the best ones. In fact, the only character I found I truly cared about was Samm. Odd, how the one ‘person’ the reader is led to believe is the enemy is the one I ‘felt’ the most for.

On top of these was the character development. Kira seems somewhat inept in the field in the opening. Not useless, but that she relies on the protection of soldiers whenever she has to leave the safety of home. And whilst I enjoyed watching her feistiness develop throughout the book as she became more determined and more willing to fight for a cause she believed in, I found the entire switch from follower to team player to leader a bit sudden. She goes from someone uncertain with a gun to a kicka$$ gunslinger who shoots people in the head without any emotional connection or reaction whatsoever. And the switch seems to be suddenly made once she makes her discovery. A discovery, I’ll add, I wholly saw coming, because I suspected it from pretty early in the book, from the moment she took Marcus’s bloody instead of her own to study (yeah, I pretty much knew the reader wasn’t being shown hers for a reason—convenient, eh?). But for her to suddenly began acting stealthy like a switch had been thrown—especially as she constantly questioned the revelation—seemed a little much to absorb/accept.

Then I had a believability problem with Kira being the only person in the entire human population who cared enough about the dying babies to do anything about it. So out of every human, and every nurse/medical staff who came before and watched baby after baby die, and ever scientist/researcher who came before and spent the past 11 years trying to find out why … she’s the ONLY one who cares and wants to do more, and she’s the only one who makes the link to Partials?

Also, I had a lot of issue with accepting the ‘tone’ of their dialogue, which reflected their personalities. Because the main players of the book are all pretty much meant to be just past their mid-teens (some late teens), but they all sounded like a bunch of middle-aged folk. I had a really hard time associating/connecting their personalities and dialogue with their ages.

So, now you’re probably wondering why I persevered so hard and read on, eh? Well, I presumed the beginning pacing was more my inability to absorb all the world building more than the book being bad, and it held enough intrigue that I wanted to find out where it was going. I also seriously wanted to meet a Partial, dammit. And I’m glad I persevered for that very reason. Because it was about the time Samm showed up that everything became a whole lot more interesting. The pace seemed to suddenly improve, there was far less paragraphs of ‘tell’ and way more scenes of characters actually ‘doing’ something, and we finally began to get a fuller feel for the true conflict Kira was dealing with. I really enjoyed the time Kira spent with Samm during her ‘research’ days, and how he managed to surprise her occasionally—obviously buttering her up enough to get her batting for his team. I flew through the action scenes, the break-out, the escape, the short-lived freedom. I enjoyed being slightly surprised by the double-cross, though I lulled again when we met the researching Partials and had trouble following all the scientific stuff again (another hint it might have been me that struggled with the book as opposed to the book being a struggle). I did think the second break-out all seemed a bit too convenient, but hey ho, it got them where they needed to be—though I was disappointed that a certain someone didn’t return with them. And whilst I was sad about certain characters dying, it did at least add some credibility to their mission. Plus, there was the ending. I’m not too sure how I felt about Kira’s calmness and acceptance when Hobb was given his little speech at the end—I expected at least a little of that fury of hers to surface over it, some animosity at least. But nothing. And yes, I was very happy about the mission she announced she was going to embark on—because that tells me the reader will definitely get to meet a certain someone again in book 2. But, what really clinched the deal, what forced goosebumps along my arms and provoked my first emotion since starting the book, was those final four paragraphs. Because now I definitely need to read on.

So, to recap: hard going and took a while to get into, but certainly worth the read. Lovers of deep dystopia and even mild sci-fi will most likely lap this up far easier than I did, so it’s a defo recommendation to them.