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

Book Review: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I have to say, this cover is definitely one of my faves of 2012. Love the juxtaposition of the red shoe and the cyborg leg. Another plus? My mom actually picked this one up for me BASED on the cover. Said it looked like "something you'd like". So congrats, cover people. You did a good job. 🙂

ETA: Macmillan Audio has kindly allowed me to post an excerpt from the Cinder audiobook to this blog! The link is here.

Title: Cinder (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Audiobook. (If you just want to try out chapters 1-5, you can get those FREE for your Kindle/Nook here and here.)

Maturity Level: YA. Some disturbing imagery and mild language, along with the usual sci-fi trappings.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy science fiction, Fullmetal Alchemist (there are definitely a few shoutouts in here), and fairy tales.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you expect it to closely follow the format of the original fairy tale.

Linh Cinder lives in a pretty bleak world. As a cyborg in the predominantly human New Beijing, she is shunned and hated. A deadly disease is sweeping the land, wiping people out in droves, and Earth is on the brink of war with the ruthless, extremely powerful Lunars. Cinder’s only saving grace is her skill as a mechanic, and when she is contracted by the crown prince Kai himself, she falls into a terrifying political melee—and possibly, in love with the young prince.

My biggest issue with this book is that the balance between the fairy tale and the sci-fi aspect is kind of off. Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi—but I went into this expecting a fairy-tale retelling with sci-fi elements, as opposed to a sci-fi with fairy tale elements. Also, the world-building could use some work. I counted at least three or four different cultures that Meyer seemed to be trying to meld into the unifying society of New Beijing, but for some reason they just kind of clashed.

Wow, reading that last paragraph, you would think I really didn’t like this book. The thing is, I really DID like it for many reasons: the plague aspect was handled really well, I really liked Cinder as an MC, etc, etc. The storytelling definitely has a cinematic edge to it—I would not be surprised to see this one made into a movie in the next five years. However, the issues I outlined above did seriously detract from the story, merely because I found them jarring and somewhat annoying.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid sci-fi book, though it did have some issues. I was a little nervous when I discovered that this is meant to be the first in a quartet— I thought that minus the cliffie ending it could have easily stood just fine on its own—but I will definitely pick up Scarlet when it hits shelves in 2013. J

Pros

  • The plague, obviously modeled off of the sweep of the Black Death through Europe. Very well done.
  • Cinder. I thought she was a badass, and who doesn’t love a cyborg?
  • Prince Kai
  • Dr. Erland as the fairy godmother.

Cons

  • The Lunars are weak conceptually.
  • Occasional unnecessary over-description.
  • I’m not sure if this should be a quartet.
  • Melding of cultures in New Beijing is kind of awkward and heavy-handed.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • pg 349-onward. Love this as a “ball scene”.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars, rounded up for GR.

Final Grade:  B. Nice read, but had some issues that I simply couldn’t ignore.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read

When I was a kid, I devoured books. In first grade, I was already reading MG/YA  and classic novels as opposed to those little readers that they give you in school. Therefore, it was always anathema to me when my brothers or my friends would complain about HAVING to read books, because I was really interested in reading EVERYTHING EVER. As I grew and matured, I discovered to my shock and horror that this was not an uncommon attitude. Even now, there’ll be times when I run into people who say that they just don’t like to read, and give me a mildly dismissive shoulder shrug.

So I, of course, must rise to the challenge and recommend books to these people. When I saw that today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Top Ten Books That I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read, I just HAD to join in. 🙂

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke and The Bookish.)

Top Ten Books That I’d Hand To Someone Who Says They Don’t Like To Read

1. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone + sequels

This one is obvious. It got my brothers reading, it got my friends reading, and it started a wildfire in the world of young adult literature.

2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett

This was the first novel I was able to get my youngest brother to read that wasn’t for school. Success!

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I’m guessing this is going to be on a lot of lists. Got my brother and three friends to read this one.

4. Anything by Patricia C. Wrede

Wrede’s witty, lighthearted style is sure to convert even the most hardened book haters.

5. Anything by Cassandra Clare

For that girl you know who says “I don’t read, but I did like Twilight.” Only, Clare is obviously tons better than Meyer.

6. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

For that girl/boy you know who likes adventure and paranormal TV shows but doesn’t read.

7. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

For everyone. Ever. It’s impossible to hate this series.

8. Eragon + sequels

I am personally not as into these books anymore, but they do tend to get young people reading (and even writing!).

9. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Again, something of better quality for the Twilight-and-nothing-else chick.

10. The Amulet of Samarkand + sequels

This is a good one for boys or girls who are fond of The House of Anubis/similar shows but have a hard time finding something that suits their taste in books.

So, those are my (admittedly somewhat genre-slanted) offerings. What books would YOU recommend for reluctant readers? Let me know in the comments or link me back to your own Top Ten Tuesday post!