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Book review: 'Partials' is only partially satisfying

Published: Sunday, Feb. 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

"PARTIALS," by Dan Wells, Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 480 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

"Partials," a science-fiction thriller by Orem author Dan Wells, begins with the death of a newborn, unceremoniously named No. 485GA18M because no newborn has survived past three days in the last 11 years, due to a weaponized virus that wiped out most of the world’s population. Those few thousand whose immunity allowed them to survive try to eke out an existence on Long Island, N.Y. Enter Kira Walker, a medically minded teen who is determined to find the cure and secure a future for humankind.

But blocking her way are the harsh totalitarian government that tries to maintain order through control, a band of rebel humans called the Voice who attack the government and any civilians in their way, and the Partials, bio-engineered beings who brought the virus in the first place.

Along with her friends, Kira fights her way through each group as she struggles to find answers and save the soon-to-be born baby of her roommate, Madison.

But she soon realizes that not everyone is who they seem. And some might just as easily take a gunshot for her as to try to blow her up. With battle upon battle mixed in with time breaks (sometimes months long), Wells takes the plot on breakneck speed and then screeches it to a halt unfortunately to the loss of good pacing that keeps one excited to finish the book.

"Partials" also has too many characters and not enough development, especially of the adults, which was also frustrating because Wells’ prior trilogy featured John Cleaver, one of the most intriguing/complicated characters in current young adult literature, a character one learns to hate as well as love. "Partials" does explore some interesting concepts of survival and humanity and there were some thrilling plot twists and a clever parallel storyline but one is more disappointed with the predictability of the ending then excited to see what comes next.

There is a smattering of curse words throughout "Partials" as well as battle scenes filled with descriptions of violent injuries and deaths. And while there is nothing sexually explicit, throughout the book there is a disturbing thread of government-forced teen pregnancy (as low as age 16) that elevated it out of this reviewer's curious daughter’s hands to recommend it for ages 14 and up.

Maybe it was because there has been an influx of post-apocalyptic teen fiction lately that this seems like nothing too new. Maybe it was because the pacing felt rushed and the ending a bit predictable. Maybe it was because this reviewer devoured/loved Dan Wells’ John Cleaver series and thus set the bar too high. Maybe it was a mix of all of these things that resulted in only partial satisfaction in finishing "Partials."

IF YOU GO ...

What: Dan Wells' "Partials" launch party

When: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.

Where: Weller Book Works, 665 E. 600 South, Salt Lake City

Web: www.samwellers.com

Also ...

What: Dan Wells book signing

When: Wednesday, Feb. 29, 6 p.m.

Where: Barnes & Noble, University Crossings Plaza, 330 E. 1300 South, Orem

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Also ...

When: Friday, March 16, 6 p.m.

Where: Barnes & Noble, 7157 Plaza Center Drive, West Jordan

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Emily W. Jensen updates "Today in the Bloggernacle" on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, presenting the best from the world of LDS-oriented blog sites. Her extended "Bloggernacle Back Bench" appears on Tuesdays.

Email: ejensen@desnews.com

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