Partials

The only hope for humanity isn’t human. / Partials / Dan Wells

Partials by Dan Wells and book description on Amazon

In a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a girl named Kira is a paramedic. She struggles in her daily job as every baby routinely dies of a virus. A long time before, beings called Partials ruined the world so that all babies would be infected with a virus. Then the Partials vanished.

In the current setting of the novel, the government daily fights not only the baby-killing virus but also rebels called the Voice. When Kira’s friend becomes pregnant, she finally tries to stop the virus. Can she travel past the Voice and capture a Partial to stop this virus once and for all?

In his novel, Partials, Dan Wells succeeded in writing a sympathetic yet flawed protagonist. Kira is an idealist. She dreams of stopping the virus, but her idealism can get her into trouble. Some of the other characters seem to blur into the background to me. For example, Jayden appears in the majority of this novel, but I can only describe him as a tough guy.

Other characters include Hiro, who was desperate for his wife to have a safe child, and Samm (sic) the Partial. I had no trouble suspending belief for the world building. There are many biological descriptions in Partials, as the main character Kira is a paramedic. Still, I understood the biological descriptions in the story reasonably well.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone and book description on Amazon.com

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a slow, sweet, sad story featuring beautiful prose:

And if fate carries me back to the familiar place, I will come gladly and with hope. Tires singing on the weathered asphalt, wind whipping in my hair. I hope to search for the overgrown opening between the trees where a rutted road leads to an open field, and smell the scent of crushed grass in the fading light.

With such pretty prose, Kat Rosenfield is definitely an author to watch. I would love to continue watching her evolve, and I hope she grows to become a five star-worthy Author. Unfortunately, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone falls short of a five star-worthy read.

After reading the introductory synopsis, I expected a mystery story with a compelling heroine. Instead, I was served a slow narrative of a girl hoping to escape from her town. Unfortunately for this girl, Rebecca, she is trapped in a small town and has to stay there for a summer. The story begins with Rebecca walking across her high school’s stage as a salutatorian with plans to attend the state college after summer. On the night of the graduation, Rebecca’s boyfriend breaks up with her in his car. On the following, morning the townspeople are informed about the murder of Amelia which coincidentally occurred at the location where s boy friend broke up with her. The story gives hints to Amelia’s life, her dreams to become an actress, and her relationship with her boyfriend Luke.

I guessed the identity of Amelia’s killer at the start of the novel. My hunches proved correct; nothing surprised me. The book failed to be a mystery novel, leaving the story of Rebecca which I found Rebecca uninteresting. Her purpose, to get out of the small town and become a somebody, has been explored in better novels. The brief moments the book dwells on Amelia fascinated me because I found her likable compared to Rebecca.

The prose bogged down the story. Yes, I admired it, but it dragged the plot down to a slow pace. Pages seemed to inch along like a slug ambling to the finish line. I feel that, in a different story, the prose would be appropriate, maybe in a story with more reflection.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone was a decent novel, but failed to fully engage me. It just lacks the spark of a five star read. I give it three stars.

The Hunger Games by New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games and book description on Amazon

I was a bit late in the game when it came to reading The Hunger Games. Ever since the movie came out this spring, the book and story have been invading the occasional casual conversation. Everyone states that the first book is good while the sequels are dissatisfying. Of course, I needed to start reading the series myself and see what it is about.

The first thing I notice while reading the book is its main character, Katniss Everdeen. I flip to the cover to check the author’s name, Suzanne Collins, and am glad that the author is of the same gender as her character. As I read on, I am glad not to be presented any majorly provocative imagery. What I was afraid of and what motivated me to check the author’s name is my experience of reading The Fault in Our Stars (where the imagery is at times more provocative, the main character is also female, and yet the author is a man).

The style of the book interested me. The short sentence fragments. Restatements of incomplete thoughts syntactically arranged as sentences. Ideas normally delimited by emdashes presented as sentence-like creatures. The author likely tries to emulate the pace and cadence of an English speaker’s thoughts. Ideas expressed more haphazardly. Eyes darting from tree to branch. Easily distracted. The reader stalks the story as it surveys its surroundings before flitting to the next event. Yes, I cannot pin down the author’s style; it is a curiosity and perhaps an abuse of English, but an author writes with that purpose.

Katniss grew up in the coal mining province of Panem called District 12. Her father has died about a year prior to the book’s start, leaving Katniss’s mother in a sad stupor which forces Katniss to develop the illegal hunting and gathering skills her father had taught her to provide for her mother and younger sister, Prim. As shown in the movie’s cover, Katniss is an archer. Trading game (squirrels and rabbits) at the local black market has developed Katniss, nicknamed Catnip by her hunting partner Gale, into a true shot. By this time, her life is almost agreeable. She is popular at the local market. Her mother has come out of her stupor and taken up an apocrathy business. Gale is a true friend; he and Katniss can comfortably voice their thoughts of dissent against the government while alone together in the forest. But today is the reaping, where any child aged 12 through 18 risks being chosen as one of two Tributes to represent his and her district.

The Hunger Games, the name of the competition to the death between the 24 combatants representing 12 districts, are starting. Being chosen means almost certain death, especially for someone from District 12 from whence no victor has issued for thirty years. And, of course, the main character becomes the female representative of her district. She isn’t exactly chosen; she volunteers to save the life of her young sister, Prim. It shouldn’t be possible for Prim to be chosen as a Tribute; as a 12-year-old, she has the lowest probability of being picked as a tribute. More importantly, Prim cannot be chosen. She would not step on an ant. She is unlike her older sister, Katniss the hunter. She simply cannot be entered into a gladiator arena where, no doubt, her brutal murder will be televised to the entire country.

At this point the reader is launched into the Hunger Games. Without so much as having a normal day with Katniss, we see her on a train headed to the arena, her fate changed forever. The reader is taught what Katniss’s normal life is like through the contrast of the horrible Hunger Games. And, subtly, she and the other Tribute from her district, Peeta, manage to both participate in the Hunger Games and express a sentiment of rebellion against the government whose Games are a token of a far more comprehensive oppression.

I started reading this book sometime last Friday and finished today, four days later. I enjoy this genre of book, with action and suspense. It managed to keep me reading. It even would keep me up late at night in a nervous, adrenaline-fueled state without resorting to any nightmare-causing imagery. Of course, I had not recently read a good action-filled book, so I was thirsty for anything.

There is a sequel to The Hunger Games called Catching Fire, also by Suzanne Collins. The end of The Hunger Games does leave the reader with questions.

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Book cover for Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone

Book cover for Shadow and Bone

Amazon’s Shadow and Bone Book Description

In the hopes of having a surge in YA fantasy rather than dystopian, I checked out Shadow and Bone from the library. The book hit the New York Times Bestsellers list, I waited a week and still no Shadow and Bone. I appeased myself by reading Feast of Crows and Name of the Wind, but when I finally received Shadow and Bone, I smiled and read the novel.

Shadow and Bone is a fantasy set in a Russian inspired country called Rakva. It features the Grisha (magicians) who are able to manipulate matter with a form of magic called “small science”. One girl, Alina Starkov, serves in the military. Previously, she had been tested for the ability to do small science but failed. However, when her regiment enters The Shadow Fold, an area of land with monsters and surrounded by countries ready to war with Rakva, she saves the regiment with small science. Afterwards, the Grisha take her to the court where the Darkling, an ancient being, lives.

The small science which Alina and the Magicians can do is quite imaginative, and I have no complaints about the world building. I’m sure Russian enthusiasts can pick apart certain aspects of Shadow and Bone, but I myself have no qualms. My knowledge of Russian culture is limited to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy novels.

What I do have an issue with is the middle of the novel where Alina stays in the court. Here, the story dragged. Alina’s fixation on beauty, partly because of her insecurity, verged on annoyance for me. While Alina constantly complains about her lack of prettiness, she is able to attract two guys in the course of this novel. The prose is also mundane, but functions well enough to carry the story.

The fantasy tropes are evident in this story. There is an orphan with a power to save the world, a mystical object to heighten the orphan’s power, and an evil villain. Nonetheless, the author utilized the tropes well.

I can laud this novel more then I can complain. The enigmatic figure of the Darkling impressed me. He really is the true star of this novel. Still, he turns into a caricature in the end. I disliked Mal at first, partly because he was a player, but he grew on me. Alina herself had to be the weakest character as she never took stood up for herself. She has to run away from the court at the advice from another person.

Overall, I liked Shadow and Bone; I give it four stars: it is good, but not quite great. Days after reading, it has not all stuck in my brain, but I consider it a fun read. And please, book industry, give us some more good YA fantasy!