Author: Dan Wells
Review Summary: Fairly typical YA dystopian novel, but with a particularly likable protagonist with strong morals and leadership ability; believable science; and unusually nuanced ethical questions.
In this dystopian wasteland, only a small fraction of the human population has survived war with the genetically engineered super-human Partials and the ravages of a virus. Although the surviving humans and all Partials are immune to the virus, no human baby has been born immune in over a decade. As a 16-year-old-medic, Kira experiences first hand the horror of the baby-killing virus and the violence caused by factions disagreeing about mandatory pregnancy laws. With astounding insight and determination, Kira pursues a solution – a possible connection between the Partials and the virus – in what may be humanities last hope for survival.
This was an action-packed book right from the beginning. Events move quickly and the author does a great job incorporating background information into the action in a natural way. The writing was fairly standard for a good YA book, well done but not too complex. The protagonist, Kira, was one of my favorite YA characters ever. She has a very strong moral code and is willing to act in accordance with her beliefs even if no one else agrees with her. She’s also a great leader, capable of bringing other people together. I think her ethics, leadership abilities, and intelligence are what make her special, which made her a lot more relatable for me than a heroine who suddenly discovers super powers of some variety. She managed to be the driving force for change in this book, without unrealistically doing everything herself.
I also enjoyed the complexity of the ethical questions raised by the plot, including everything from reproductive rights to the question of what makes us human. I feel like many dystopians are more black and white, while this book definitely reflected the shades of gray present in the real world. The science included in the book added another interesting layer to the story and was handled pretty well. You never get bogged down in the details and the information that was provided didn’t contradict any of the science I’m familiar with. Based on my recent read of Physics of the Future, the science is beyond anything we’re likely to have in the next 100 years, but it could definitely happen some day. Finally, the ending was just enough of a cliff hanger to feel satisfying but still leave me counting the days until the sequel, Fragments, comes out next month.