Book Review: “Partials” by Dan Wells (Partials #1)

Title: Partials (Partials #1) (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Dan Wells

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook

Maturity Level: Upper YA. Teen pregnancy, a relationship between an older man and a teenage girl, and violence.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy books about plagues; if you enjoyed Cinder; if you like cyborgs and/or genetic engineering; if you enjoy straight sci-fi with no paranormal elements.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you have triggers related to teen pregnancy and/or relationships in which one partner is significantly older/more experienced than the other.

The world of Partials certainly looks, from afar, like an intriguing one. After a war with the biologically engineered Partials, humanity is very nearly extinct. The survivors live on an island, and fight daily against the harsh realities of life in a post-apocalyptic world. To top it all off, the weaponized virus that killed the majority of the population still continues to kill every baby that’s born, forcing the government to take drastic action in the form of pregnancy laws. Kira is a medic. She watches all of this go on every day, and she’s determined to find a cure for the virus—even if that means coming into close contact with the deadly Partials themselves.

My main problem with this book is that it felt like set-up. I feel like the first half could easily have been condensed, and maybe some of the plot points that will hopefully be addressed in the sequel could have made it into this one. I also disliked the “evil evil government” cliché, as well as the creepy relationship between one of Kira’s teenage friends and her boss, a senator.

Overall, though, it was decent. I enjoyed it, for sure, but it just didn’t have any “wow” factor for me. Hopefully book #2 will be a little more engaging.

Pros

  • I love the world, especially the literal “urban jungle” of New York.
  • I happen to think the Partials are a pretty cool concept.
  • Kira’s definitely got some badass qualities.
  • The characters. They all have differing, complex motivations and this flavors their interactions in a very interesting way.

Cons

  • I thought this was a bit mature for YA—I’m not saying that we should sensor YA, by any means, but I think this book would be pretty alienating to the younger end of the YA readership.
  • I’m a little tired of the Orwellian government being so prominent in sci-fi.
  • Marcus is a total douchewad. Was so glad when Kira gave him the boot about halfway through.

Favorite Line (s): “You could get high on his farts.”~pg 41.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5

Final Grade: B

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Book Review: “Incarcercon” by Catherine Fisher

Title: Incarceron

Author: Catherine Fisher

Warnings: PG 13 for violence and swearing.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I have long held the opinion that when you are reading/reviewing a book, the question that you should be asking is not “Is this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

Rather, the question should be “What makes this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

In the case of Incarceron, there are many different factors that make it awesome. The best thing about this book? All of these factors come together to form a cohesive whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

The story is a dual narrative, alternating between  two worlds that Fisher balances  wonderfully. Finn is the amnesiac “seer” of a gang within the living prison of Incarceron. Claudia is the entitled daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, attempting to escape an arranged marriage within the equally restrictive society of Outside. At first, there is very little that connects them, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, rather intimately linked. Joined by allies such as Jared, Keiro, and Attia, Finn attempts to find a method of escape from Incarceron, while Claudia investigates its mysteries and discovers that she is far more entangled in Incarceron’s web than she initially believed.

Overall, the plot was a little bit predictable, the dual narrative a bit fiddly, but it was, for the most part, a lovely read. The brilliance of this book is that its strengths far outweigh its flaws, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the sequel, Sapphique.

Pros

  • The worldbuilding alone is gorgeous. Obviously, Fisher is an adept in this department; she has a deft touch that permeates both the restrictive Era-focused society of the Outside and the chaotic and cutthroat environment of Incarceron. Her through knowledge of mythology and history also shines through, and her ability to weave these small references into her narrative is astounding.
  • The concept of Incarceron as a being in its own right is neatly executed. I love that it kind of has its own personality, rather than being a faceless rumbling beast ala The Devil in season 2 of Doctor Who.
  • Jared. The dude is a Badass Bookworm despite the fact that he’s got a death sentence hanging over his head. Sickly academics don’t have a whole lot of survival potential in vaguely dystopian/steampunk worlds such as this one, so I’m already steeling myself for the moment that I have to watch him die.
  • Keiro. Keiro’s one of those rough-and-tumble types who give tough love a whole new meaning, but he really does seem to care deeply about the people around him, particularly Finn/Giles. I would like to see him get some POV time in Sapphique, as I feel there is really some untapped potential in his character. (Also, I could totally see Keiro/Attia being a thing, oddly enough.)
  • Claudia. Claudia is the type of girl I like to read about– strong-willed and smart, if occasionally a bit rash. The twist to her storyline was wonderfully executed, and I’d love to see what Fisher does with it from here on out. I’d also like to see Claudia get more chances to be a badass in book 2, just because.
  • Fisher’s fast-paced prose and neatly executed — if slightly predictable– plot are, along with her worldbuilding, the best technical aspects of the book.  And the last line is pitch-perfect!

Cons

  • The dual narrative is jarring at first, and since I was far more into Claudia than Finn, there were places where I’d see that the next chapter was Finn’s and just roll my eyes. Starting around page 105, the POV’s started to become more cohesive, and from page 137 onward, it works.
  • The Queen. As a villain, she was frankly unimpressive, more SnowWhite!Evil Queen than the level of character that I’d come to expect by the time she appeared.
  • Finn can sometimes come off as a bit whiny and unlikeable, and the Finn-is-Giles plot was definitely one of the weakest and most predictable. I’m hoping that he grows more of a spine in book 2, and that he becomes involved in some slightly more complicated subplots.
  • The POV occasionally changes from what appears to be third person focused to third person omniscient without much warning, especially toward the end.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A.  Would reread. Will definitely read the sequel(s).