Welcome to My Book Bag!

I'm Susan Aikens. Welcome to my blog about kids' books, My Book Bag. I'm one of those people who is always "selling" books to friends, relatives, and even to strangers in bookstores who mistake me for an employee. This blog is an extension of that. Here you'll find impartial reviews of new and time-tested fiction and non-fiction books for kids, ages 6 through teen. I'll also let you know about promising new authors and emerging trends in children's literature. Hopefully, you'll find these reviews helpful as you select titles for your child, your classroom, or yourself.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Partials by Dan Wells, Harpercollins, 2/28/12

Partials, by Dan Wells, Harpercollins, $17.99, due 2/28/12. Best suited for ages 14+.

Although I haven't posted recently due to my frantic job search efforts, I have been reading several YA & middle grade fiction titles.  Last week, I finished reading the ARC of Partials by Dan Wells (Harpercollins, 2/28/12), a dystopian thriller with a unique premise.  I was intrigued as soon as I saw the fantastic cover image & read the plot summary.

Partials is set in 2076, eleven years after humanity has been ravaged by war with the Partials, super-human clone warriors who turned on their human creators. During the war, the Partials released the RM virus.  Since then, all human babies die a few hours after they are born.  The small, surviving human population is desperate to develop immunity to the virus to prevent the eventual extinction of humanity.  In a world without children, all women & girls over the age of 17 are required by law to get pregnant as often as possible to increase the chances of having a baby immune to the RM virus.  Kira, the novel's protagonist, is a 16-year-old medic who vows to find a cure before she is required to get pregnant.   

While I enjoyed Partials (I read most of it while sitting in a hotel room in Columbus),  I made the inevitable comparisons with Hunger Games & The Giver, both of  which provide more complete depictions of post-apocalyptic societies.  I found many of the adults in Partials one-dimensional.  As authority figures, they practically beg the teen protagonists to rebel. At almost 500 pages, the author had plenty of time to develop his story, yet I found several aspects rushed or under-developed. When Kira decides to cure RM, she goes out to capture a Partial for study.  I kept wondering at the ease with which she accomplished this.  Her Partial, Samm, doesn't seem very warrior-like.  Kira's relationships with her friends, particularly her boyfriend Marcus, lack depth & emotion. Where are Peeta & Gale when you need them?

On the positive side, Partials is fast-paced & action-packed, although quite violent. There's no shortage of explosions or confrontations. Kira's dread of getting older & having to get pregnant to satisfy the Hope Act permeates the story.  The cliff-hanger ending & the unresolved questions about Kira's past perfectly set up the story for the next installment.  If you're looking for a good dystopian read while waiting for the Hunger Games movie, you may enjoy Partials.

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