Let me state clearly that this is not my favorite style of writing. All the dialogue is either witty banter or profound discourse. All the guns are cocked and loaded, and there is military jargon throughout. Yet there are remarkably few people who actually hit a target. All options are fraught with mortal peril continuously, but only the people with no last names die — until the blood bath at the end. And we're supposed to believe that teenagers are the most capable players in this drama.
Yes, I know some of you would go out and buy this book just based on that paragraph. And yes, this book is definitely for you. But let me also point out that I finished this book. I don't do that unless I like it. (Who has the time for bad books!)
So there is more to this book than cocky, military sci-fi. Partials is one of those stories that fascinates and compels. This is the end of humanity. Our engineered android army — the Partials — have turned on us and wiped out 99.996% of all humans — first in a quick but effective assault on humans, then releasing a virus that wipes out the survivors in days.
All this happened 11 years ago at the start of this book. A small pocket of humans who had resistance to the symptoms from this virus, RM, are trying to survive on Long Island. But they are still suffering the effects of RM. Every living human is a resistant carrier; the virus is everywhere. So every child born into this small society dies. Not one baby in 11 years has survived a week beyond birth.
The governing body of these refugees has decided to play the odds. All females of age must have as many babies as their bodies will allow. This is the law. It's called the Hope Act. Yet, as babies continue to die and human extinction is looming, those in charge believe the law isn't good enough. They are debating lowering the age at which all girls must begin to breed. To sixteen.
Naturally, forcing teens to become mothers to dead babies is not met with universal approval. There is a rebel faction called the Voice which is doing all it can to destabilize the fragile balance of power. Though not every act of terrorism blamed on the Voice turns out to be perpetrated by the Voice. Naturally.
And there are still one million Partials on the mainland to be dealt with. Though they've been strangely silent for eleven years.
All these plot points are what keep you reading. And there's always one more twist on the next page that makes it impossible to put this book down. Even when you can predict where it will end up, you are compelled to follow the path to see HOW it gets there.
I also have to say that I really didn't like any of the characters, but I rarely do in science fiction. There just isn't time for character development when the bullets are flying. So you usually get a one-dimensional, obsessional creature driving all the action orbited by a constellation of plot motivators. Partials is no exception.
Still, you can't argue with a book that will not close until the last page. And Partials is definitely in that category!