Tag Archives: future

Book Reviews
March 7, 2012 posted by Kiona

Partials — Dan Wells

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Before I write anything else, the first thought I want to get out of my system is this: Partials is the most amazing sci-fi novel I’ve read in a long time. Partials is the futuristic tale of a decimated America where the only surviving humans are gathered in what was once Long Island. In future America, a company called ParaGen created the Partials, human-like machines meant to be used as weapons. The Partials don’t age, have accelerated healing capabilities, possess super-human strength, and eventually turned on humans, waging a catastrophic war. Not only did this war kill thousands, but the disease the Partials set loose on humans — RM — has ensured the destruction of our species. As a result, the Senate created the Hope Act, mandating all girls age eighteen and up to become pregnant as often as possible in the hopes of finding a cure and repopulating the species. Viewing the Hope Act as an infringement on basic human rights, a faction of humans called the Voice split from society and is set on destroying the Senate, even at the cost of human lives.

Kira is a sixteen-year-old medic intern working in the maternity ward. The constant state of death leaves her heartbroken and desperate for answers. When Kira’s adopted sister becomes pregnant, Kira will do anything to save her future niece’s life. An idea begins to form as she finds a connection between the disease and the Partials. Along with a group of her closest friends, Kira embarks on a mission to find a cure, a mission that may just destroy what’s left of the world.

So that’s a lot to take in. And it’s definitely better to experience this world by diving into it than by reading my long-winded explanations. Part of this is because Wells provides the right amount of information at the right times. He gives away just enough that you understand what’s going on, but not enough for you to put down the book. The world is a lot to process at first, but it’s so interesting and elaborate. Wells builds an intricate world that draws you in from the very first page and holds you tightly in its grasp until the last page.

While the world-building and plots are top-notch, the characters are what first catch my attention. Kira’s main group of friends is diverse and each character is intelligent and thoughtful. We’re talking about characters that think before they speak, the debate, that consider real issues and point out flaws in each others’ ridiculous plans rather than racing off into battle. This is so rare in YA these days. Most characters operate under an “act now, think later” mindset, for some reason, and seem confused when this approach doesn’t turn out for the best. Kira, Marcus, Jayden, Xochi, Isolde, and Haru are intelligent. As a bonus, they’re all so different, their voices so strong. Not only does Marcus know how to make Kira laugh, but he consistently makes me laugh aloud. Xochi is an adopted sister I’d want on my side any day of the week and Isolde steps up in her own way when everyone needs her. Even Jayden, who seems cold at first, has numerous layers to his personality. Each character is incredibly well-developed, while one might expect their development to be left lacking in such an intricate story.

Perhaps the only flaw I can find with Partials is that it seems to drag in a couple parts, but even that’s not so bad. The beginning feels a little slow, but by the end, elements from the beginning come into play, proving that each scene is necessary. Everything Dan Wells includes, he includes for a reason. The scientific explanations behind RM are incredibly intricate, but for someone without much of a science background, I can definitely follow them. Not just follow — I find the explanations quite interesting. The twist in the ending jumped out and grabbed me from behind, leaving me thoroughly blindsided. While the end answers many of the questions that crop up from the beginning and throughout, it also introduces a ton of new questions that I’m desperate for answers to. I definitely recommend this book to almost anyone — it has a wide range of appeal — and I’m already looking forward to rereading it and discussing it with everyone I know. Well-written, fast-paced, thrillingly fresh, with a perfect blend of science, action, and humor — Partials has something for everyone.

Pages: 472
Publication Date: February 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: ARC
Rating : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “Kira felt a pang of conscience, as stark as if she’d willfully betrayed them all. What would they do if they knew what I really am?”

Feed – M. T. Anderson
Book Reviews
December 16, 2009 posted by Katie

Feed – M. T. Anderson

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

So says Titus, a teenager whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his “feed,” a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. After all, how else would they know where to party on the moon, how to get bargains at Weatherbee & Crotch, or how to accessorize the mysterious lesions everyone’s been getting? But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what’s happening to the world and challenges everything Titus and his friends hold dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed.

When I first saw Feed mentioned in Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘Top Twelve Books of 2009’, I knew that I had to read this novel. (For those who don’t know, Maggie is the author of Shiver) What gripped me from the first page of this novel is the sense of grim reality. This isn’t a novel where everything is carefully scripted, it’s honest and raw. Dialogue and thought coming from a place that strikes me as real. Through every thought of Titus I got a sense of being completely in over my head, struggling to find meaning of events taking place. Which, I believe, is exactly the response author M. T. Anderson was looking for.

Feed opens with a group of friends on spring break who have decided to take off to the moon to find entertainment. But the moon isn’t exactly what they expected. They run into Violet, who for all appearances is as average and normal as the rest of them. Except for the fact she was home-schooled and needs to live a little. Yet everything doesn’t run smoothly on the moon. For Titus and his friends become the subjects of a hacker, resulting in their feeds being disconnected, leaving them shut off from the world. Imagine having the internet permanently accessible to you, then suddenly it’s gone. Yet this internet is the basis of everything. Communication, human contact. The world.

All too soon – or not soon enough depending on your point of view – the technicians of FeedTech have fixed the problem and Titus, Violet and their friends can continue on with their normal life as American consumers. However one member of this group doesn’t have it as easy as the rest. Even before the hack, Violet was about defying the feed. About not conforming to society. Testing the boundaries to see how far she can push. And her limit may have just arrived, for her feed hasn’t recovered the same as everyone else’s. Slowly, Violet is losing control of her most basic functions and without the money to fund repairs, Violet and Titus know that she only has a short amount of time to live.

With not enough time to do anything, Violet tries to do everything. Yet underneath it all there is still her belief in fighting the system. Her belief that there is something more out there than the average American. But can she communicate this to Titus in a way he can understand before it’s too late?

I’ve always measure novels in terms of how well I can get lost in the story. Feed is one that had me completely lost in the story. Anderson wove a story that was so compelling and so real. This isn’t a fantasy or alternate universe with different rules. It’s a grim look at a future possible reality. The ‘feeds’ which is the subject matter of a large portion of the novel is a highly advanced internet interface which is installed in your brain – it takes over everything from breathing and moving and completely removes the necessity of reading. It categories and records everything you do, building a profile of you used by American corporations. It is a place that we could very well be heading. A scary and controlling place. And through this, we have Violet who is fighting for a better world, a world where youth don’t live in ignorance of what is happening outside of their suburb, where youth remember the history of the past and what the world used to be like. It is Violet who made this novel all the more real, as she tries to break from society.

This is just one of those novels that needs to be read. At the core, one girls emotional and physical struggle to change the world, seen through the eyes of one that struggles and fails to break free of the constraints of society.

A warning to younger readers, frequent coarse language does occur.

Pages: 300

Publication date: 2004

Rating:: ★★★★★