Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Ruins

17607716Title: Ruins
Author: Dan Wells
Genre: Science fiction, dystopian, young adult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:
Kira, Samm, and Marcus fight to prevent a final war between Partials and humans in the gripping final installment in the Partials Sequence, a series that combines the thrilling action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Blade Runner and The Stand.
There is no avoiding it—the war to decide the fate of both humans and Partials is at hand. Both sides hold in their possession a weapon that could destroy the other, and Kira Walker has precious little time to prevent that from happening. She has one chance to save both species and the world with them, but it will only come at great personal cost.

This was a strong finish to a strong series, but not quite as good as I'd hoped it would be.

There are a few things that stand out to me about this series. The fist is the unflinching descriptions of the science and research behind disease, genetic engineering, and health. It's rare that a book will not only tackle a very relevant issue such as genetic engineering but also refrain from doing some hand-wavy pseudo-scientific explanation of it (ahem hem Allegiant). This series has always been very heavy on the scientific and medical aspects of the world, which makes sense considering how biological and biochemical warfare have shaped humanity's existence. The virological and pathological research continues to be a big part of this novel, but interestingly there is also more on biochemistry and environmental engineering. The bioengineer in me is very pleased (and also impressed because the author says he doesn't come from a science background - he just does his research spectacularly well).

Another thing I love and respect in this series is its portrayal of different types of people. This includes people from different racial backgrounds - the main character is of Indian descent, one character is Mexican but has an Irish adoptive mother, etc. - but it's far more than that. People with completely different mindsets and convictions about what is right and how far they are willing to go to save what they care about. People who have the means to literally control others, but don't know if and when they should use that power. Some people are idealists, others are total pessimists; some are human, some are Partial. The main character is an idealistic, determined, and intelligent young woman who wants to find a way to save humanity without undermining the qualities that make it worth saving, but she is still flawed and insecure. The author never uses any of the stereotypical tags that make a character a "strong female protagonist" and she is portrayed as far from perfect. And it's exactly that that makes Kira a truly strong character. This series doesn't discriminate by gender, race, or species - and that's the glorious thing about it.

I thought this book was just as fast-paced and intense as the previous two, if not more so. The stakes are high, and everyone knows it. I enjoyed seeing even more points of view and putting together pieces as different groups of people's actions rippled out to others. There were some scenes I could barely stomach because they were so intense and stressful, but I enjoy when books get strong reactions out of me.

The one thing that bugged me the tiniest bit about this conclusion was how simple the second cure was. I mean, once you found out the first cure, it doesn't take much of a leap of logic to figure out the other. But I appreciated Kira and the other scientists' acknowledgement that while the cure was simple, implementing it was the actual challenge.
It's certainly difficult to get two trigger-happy and suspicious groups to live together in harmony. How do you uproot decades of mistrust, cruelty, violence, and death on both sides?
.

I highly recommend this series if you aren't afraid of science and sticky moral situations. This series has a lot of both, which is exactly what makes it so good.

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