Partials book series review

Dan Wells may have entered a writing contest with Veronica Roth a few years back. The object of the contest was to write a Young Adult post-apocalypses dystopian trilogy set in a small human community surviving in a formerly major US city. The main character is a teenage girl who becomes a hero bearing arms and fighting for her community. The situation was created through large-scale genetic work on humans carried out by the US Government. Veronica Roth entered the Divergent series. Dan Wells countered with the Partials series.
Well, the results of the contest are in and Roth won. Her Divergent series is popular and is being made into a popular movie series. Wells’ Partial series doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry.
The Partials series (Partials, Fragments and Ruins novels, plus bonus Isolation story) is not awful, it just has very uneven quality, good writing mixed with bad. Action is fast paced and readable. Characters are well developed, but there is a discontinuity: it is never explained how the main character, a regular teenage girl, all of a sudden becomes an “army of one” soldier, killing time and again and never having a second thought. Divergent’s Tris, who killed Will in the split second action during gunfight and forever agonizes over that decision, is more believable.
The premise of the Partials series is a full scale conflict between humans and large numbers of alienated bio-engineered humanoids. This problem is a recurring theme in Science Fiction, dating back at least to Heinlein’s “Jerry Was a Man”, which tells us that the topic is interesting and explores real moral problems. Unfortunately, the series falls into the typical YA pitfall – the teens are the only ones with the sense to do anything right and save the world while adults at best stand around. And it falls into that pitfall hard, as the first novel develops the story with this gem: a 16 year old intern bests all of the scientific research performed to date and the only ones to act on her insight are a bunch of teenagers.
The author shows his creativity in describing how climate can be changed by genetically engineered microorganisms. Unfortunately, his best creative idea is not well integrated into the plot. The climate change is unbelievably quick and is used simply to pile on additional obstacles to the heroic humans toward the end of the series. This was just irritating to me.
Intended or not, the book makes a point about importance of separation of power. In the human community, government becomes tyrannical, ruling by fear and going so far as to mandate serial pregnancy from age 16. This is possible because all the power is concentrated in the hands of a 20-member Senate (in reality, even smaller 5 member core Senate), which makes laws, executes them and also judges citizens.
There is an interesting angle on the ethics of science. In this book series, well intentioned scientists attempted to subvert evil plans of the government, but ended up creating even bigger monstrosity in the process.
While the beginning is of questionable quality, so is the ending. Lighthearted happy ending effectively erases sacrifice of the immediately preceding battle scene. How important could be a self sacrifice of a Heron, who was known as a cynic who cared for her self preservation before everything else? I guess not very important if even her comrades shrug it off and get busy setting up dating arrangements before her body is cold. Need I compare this to the powerful punch-in-the-gut conclusion of the Divergent series?
In summary, an interesting topic, some creative ideas, but poor execution.

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