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Partials Hardcover – Feb 28 2012
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Robison Wells Interviews His Brother, Dan Wells
Dan Wells is the acclaimed author of the John Cleaver series: I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want to Kill You. He has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Campbell Award and has won two Parsec Awards for his podcast Writing Excuses. Robison Wells, Dan’s younger brother, is the author of Variant, which Publishers Weekly called “a chilling, masterful debut” in a starred review, and its sequel, Feedback (available Fall 2012). Here, Robison interviews his brother about Partials, Dan’s pulse-pounding first book in his post-apocalyptic series that questions the very concept of what it means to be human.
Robison: Dan is my brother, exactly 13 months older than me. He and I shared a room our entire childhood, took the same classes, even dated the same girls. Dan got me into writing about twelve years ago, and ever since we’ve critiqued each other’s work, brainstormed new ideas, and told each other how terrible he is. So, with such a long background together, I’m particularly interested to see if I can learn anything new in this interview.
I’ve read so much of your writing over the years, from your poem about turkeys in the fifth grade to your first epic fantasy to your literary farce to your horror, and now your YA post-apocalyptic Partials. Is there anything you’ve written that I’d be surprised to hear about?
Dan: I wrote some Rifts fan fiction in high school—I don’t know if you knew about that. I actually reused a part of it for Partials.
Dan: I won’t say, but it’s in the first third.
Robison: You’ve written in all these different genres: Is it because you’re still looking for the perfect fit? Or are you just interested in writing lots of different things?
Dan: Almost every book I write is a new genre, or a weird combination of genres, because I like to branch out and try new things. I never would have imagined that I’d write a horror series, but that was the first book I published. I never would have found that character, or the audience that loves him, if I’d forced myself to stick to one thing.
Robison: How was the transition from supernatural to sci-fi?
Dan: Not too bad, since I see them as very connected—the only real difference between fantasy and SF is the explanation of where the weird stuff comes from. SF ended up being a lot harder, in some ways, because I had to make those explanations scientifically sound. In my horror series I could just say, “It’s a monster!” With SF I had to do a ton of research into genetics, biology, and the science of decay.
Robison: How did you do your research?
Dan: A lot of my research started online, including Wikipedia—people make fun of it as a research tool, and I admit that it’s a terrible place to end your research, but it’s a fantastic place to start. From there I found more detailed websites, and eventually some great connections to books. One of the most useful books I read was The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, about what would happen to the things we leave behind if we suddenly weren’t there to take care of them. It’s a very detailed combination of scientific research and thought experiment.
In Partials, the apocalypse wasn’t a bomb or a war or anything physically destructive, just a disease: We died, but all our stuff is still just sitting there. It was a fun situation to study, and a blast to depict in a book.
Robison: So, having done all that research, what tips would you give for surviving an apocalyptic pandemic? Let’s assume you’re immune to the virus.
Dan: I don’t know how you’re going to work that out, but there you go. Once you have that taken care of, you live in a combination of paradise and medieval squalor. You will have no electricity or running water, but almost everything else will be free. Canned food can last for a decade or more before going bad, so you can live at a subsistence level just by scavenging the local stores.
Robison: Why do you think your society of survivors ended up being organized and civil and less Mad Max-ish?
Dan: A big part of it is the scarcity issue. Mad Max and similar apocalyptic scenarios start with the premise that everything is destroyed. The survivors have to fight tooth and nail for what little resources are left. In Partials, everything you could ever want is just there for the taking.
Robison: What books/movies/music/TV influenced Partials?
Dan: Some of the influences are obvious, like Battlestar Galactica and Children of Men. Others are harder to spot. I listened to a steady diet of protest songs and revolutionary music while writing, stuff like “Uprising” by Muse, because they got my blood going and helped me get into the main character’s fiery personality. And some of my influences didn’t really end up in the book, though I still count them—things like Mad Max and A Canticle for Leibowitz that inspired my love of post-apocalyptic stories, but which didn’t really apply in this case.
The biggest influence may have been our own history and current events. Partials is, at times, a very angry book, and that’s a reflection of my own feelings about a lot of the stuff I see going on in the world.
Robison: Let’s talk about that. You’ve said before that you think one of the reasons dystopia is so popular right now is because our world is becoming more dystopian. What current events influenced you in Partials?
Dan: For example, the story is set eleven years after a devastating catastrophe—and in 2012, my readers are also eleven years after their own devastating catastrophe. The events of 9/11 changed the way we do almost everything in this country, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world. One of the things I tried to do in the book was show that the adults, who remember what life was like before the end of the world, have a very different attitude about it than the kids who’ve never really known any other life.
I also tried to throw in a lot of the extreme measures our government and our culture in general have taken in response to terrorism—reduced privacy, indefinite detention, torture, and so on. I think there are arguments on both sides of all these issues, and I tried to give each side a fair shake. Kira, the main character, has very strong ideas about what’s justifiable and what’s not, and just because she’s the main character doesn’t mean she’s always right. If anyone’s actually “right” at all.
Robison: So, on a happier note, why do you think I’m so awesome?
Dan: Because you take after your brother.
“A thrilling sci-fi adrenaline rush, with one of the most compelling and frightening visions of Earth’s future I’ve seen yet. I couldn’t put it down.” (Pittacus Lore, #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Am Number Four)
“Wells creates a compelling, fantastically complex post-apocalyptic landscape, adding thought-provoking twists to a classic story of humanity creating its own doom...With broad cross-genre appeal and an engaging balance of thematic depth and rip-roaring action, this winner will leave readers clamoring for sequels.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“A dark, wild ride.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Readers who enjoy headstrong feminist leads making their way . . . in the not-too-distant future will find plenty to like in Partials.” (Los Angeles Times)
“Mr. Wells has recombined familiar dystopian elements, added original ones and thrown in dashes of dry wit to create a sprawling, action-packed medical thriller full of big ideas and exciting reversals.” (Wall Street Journal)
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Top Customer Reviews
Kira is a sixteen year old medic still in training. She seems to be a natural when it comes to medical research. She realises that she'll have to run tests on a partial if she is going to save the babies.
I totally enjoyed this story. Author Dan Wells constructed a believable post-apocalypse world. The political power struggles made it seem more realistic.
At first I questioned whether the teens would have enough training for the jobs they were doing. Then I though about how much time is wasted in our current education system with fun things and not actual learning. A directed course of study could give students the knowledge needed within the time frame of the book.
I liked Kira. She's smart and willing to disregard the politics and get things done. She also exhibits the leadership to get those around her to support her progressive activities. It was interesting watching Samm develop from a silent character to one with an active stake in the outcome of Kira's research. Not like a prisoner with Stockholm syndrome.
I listened to the unabridged audio book as read by Julia Whelan. I did have a little trouble with her male voicing at first. As I got involved with the various characters, this mattered less.
I found this a truly enjoyable audio book. I liked the idea of the setting on Long Island, some place I've never been.
We find Kira, a 16 year old medical intern, who works and lives in East Meadow. She assists in the pregnancy ward of the hospital. Her best friend Madison becomes pregnant, and knowing that the virus will kill the new born baby she sets off on a mission to help her friend and the rest of her species. Along the way she meets friends and foes and even figures out the mystery of where she came from.
I was dying for this book and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC (THANK YOU HarperCollins! :) And boy I was not disappointed. Dan Wells writes with the pacing, tone and style set for a post-apocalyptic setting that most YA authors are writing about these days. And Mr. Wells is a great story teller. It reads like a movie. I felt like I was right there as one of the characters walking in East Meadow making do with what I had after 99.996% of the human population had been decimated.
Yes the book starts of slow, but what after reading more and more, your mind is set into Kira’s world where things aren’t what they seem to be. This book ends on a cliffhanger so I am warning you, you will get frustrated! I know I was!
This book is chock full of mystery, suspense action and a tinge of romance.
This is another series that I decided would be best read in one go. So I impatiently waited for the last book to be released and than I started Partials. And I'm glad I waited. Not only is Partials pretty action packed but it's also full of different plot points that I've discovered become more important as the series goes on. Different bits you don't want to forget about. Which can easily happen with a year between readings. Anyhow, Partials is a dystopian set years after the world has been reduced to a wasteland. Like any good dystopian the past government has decided in all their intelligence that there was a better way to control its people. Which of course backfired. In this case they created Partials. Part humans part controllable machines. Every thing started out perfect until the Partials decided they didn't like being controlled and didn't fit into society. So they rebelled. The advantage the government gave the Partials was being super human and not easily killed. Needless to say, they easily destroyed most of the human race. This is where we meet Kira, 12 years after the war, living in a small community of what is the last humans on earth. The humans haven't had contact with the Partials since the war. But they know they're out there. There's also a bigger problem, there's been no babies born since the war. Women can carry to term, but two or three days after birth the baby dies.
Kira works in the maternity ward, but her real passion is in the research it takes to figure out why these babies are dying. Kira is beyond determined and knows that the researchers have done all they can with the information they have.Read more ›
Cons: don't learn as much about the partials as you'd like, the protagonists get out of several tough situations with surprising ease
For Parents: no sex, no swearing, lots of violence, but nothing too graphic (shooting/death, off stage torture)
It's been 11 years since the genetically engineered partials rose up against their human creators, unleashing a virus that decimated the human population. Now, the remaining survivors live on Long Island, most in the community of East Meadow, which, due to its Hope Act of forcing all women 18 and over to give birth as often as possible, has created a resistance movement called the Voice. Into this turmoil comes a brilliant young hospital intern, Kira. She wants to study the one thus far unstudied aspect of the plague that still kills all human children born. Partials.
Partials is quite an adrenaline rush. There's a lot of action and several quests, starting, but not ending, with Kira's quest to find and capture a partial. While I wasn't always convinced that their plans would work as well as they did, enough things went wrong that I was willing to overlook how often enough went right.
Kira herself was an interesting character. She's borderline irritating, in that she's stubborn and 'knows' the best course of action, despite only being 16 and a 'plague baby' (ie, someone born just before the end of the modern world and too young to know what happened with the partials from personal experience). What redeems her is her reliance on her friends and her willingness to accept a change of plans when necessary.
What really sets this book apart is in its realistic depiction of society.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Captivating from start to finish! Well written! A great post-apocalyptic psych-fi read for young adults and the young at heart! Read morePublished 5 months ago
Good read, looking forward to Fragments. I felt like it had a bit of a slow start, but kept me reading and had a great finishPublished 11 months ago by Hailey
Not the best written book I've ever read, but luckily the story was interesting enough I could push through the poor wording.Published 18 months ago by Kindle Customer
Gotta say, definitely better than expected. The premise is another end of the world type thing. And then they're running out of babies, population is dying, etc. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Hatfield
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