Book Reviews for Writers: Partials by Dan Wells and Standing Out from the Pack

Mar 6, 2012

One thing I love about living in Utah is that there are oodles of fabulous writers around the area, having oodles of fabulous events. For example, last week I got to hang out with my crit group at Dan Wells' signing of his new YA sci fi, Partials.

Why, yes, that is me face bombing while my crit group member Kevin gets his book signed by Dan.

Dan's books (the I Am Not a Serial Killer series) are some of my favorites, and I was excited for Partials to see what he was going to do with it. I was also excited because...it's sci fi! And I read sci fi! And write sci fi! And from what I'd heard, there was actual sci in this fi! I couldn't wait.

I tell you, my friends, this book did NOT disappoint!

In the talk before the signing, Dan mentioned that this book was actually "commissioned." An editor at Balzer and Bray called his agent because they wanted a good dystopia for the blossoming market. Dan said they wanted another Hunger Games, with a nice love triangle and a bunch of other typical YA tropes. "Can you write that?" they asked him.

"Nope," he said. "I've already read that book. But here's what I could write for you."

And they told him to go for it. And it's one of the things I loved most about this book.

It does have the hint of a love triangle, true. It does have crazy action and a dystopian setting a la The Hunger Games. But it is something that, to me, stood out from the pack. The worldbuilding especially was BRILLIANT. There are a lot of dystopians lately that I've loved, but this one felt real, like we could wake up tomorrow and that could be our world. The main character, Kira, was intelligent, sensitive, and fiery. The science-- oh, the science!-- was well thought out and easy to understand, and was an important part of the well-paced and twisty-turny plot.

LOVED this book, my friends. LOVED.

The lesson for us writers? You can write a brilliant, "new" book even in the midst of a popular trend. Know what the trends and tropes are, and when you use them, do it purposely-- and push them beyond the usual. Then, delve even deeper. Find what's been missing, the element that you can add, and don't be afraid to add it. Be brave. Be smart. Be different.

So, my friends, read this book! I hope this doesn't sound like I think all dystopian books lately are boring parts of a trend. I've loved many of them. This one just stood out for me, and now I'm curious. What's a book that has stood out from the pack to you lately? Something that went above and beyond what you expected? How do you make your own writing stand out from the crowd?


P.S. Thanks to my crit buddy and friend Chersti for sharing her pictures of the event! She's jumped back into the blogging world with some great posts-- and a great giveaway with lots of books! Ya'll should go say hi. :)

28 comments:

Rachna Chhabria said...

The book sounds super cool. I will check it out on Amazon. Thanks.

Sarah Allen said...

Definitely agree with you on this one. I wonder if its statistically accurate, or if it just feels like Utah has a higher percentage of writers than is typical.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

J. A. Bennett said...

Okay, now I HAVE to read this! And I love that you bombed that picture :)

Heather Day Gilbert said...

I've seen this book around and thought it looked interesting. Yes, who needs ANOTHER Hunger Games, like who needs another Twilight? I like stuff that's FRESH! Also love your "face-bomb," BTW!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

I think the great writers have a certain confidence ... and it definitely took confidence for Dan Wells to tell this publisher he wasn't going to give them what they wanted. LOL! I think, as aspiring writers, one of our biggest challenges is learning when to be confident. We have so much to learn at the beginning and we feel so confident at first, then have all that confidence torn away and have to rediscover it again when we're better writers. I admire seasoned authors who are able to try something new and make it succeed.

Jolene Perry said...

I am so going to read this. I NEED something outside my genre right now!

Cherie Reich said...

The book looks awesome! I saw it at B&N the other day actually and it's been making the rounds on several blogs. I'll have to add it to my to-read list.

Chersti Nieveen said...

Thanks for the mention! The book signing was so fun, and I have to say I VERY MUCH agree with your review of this book. It was exactly what I needed. Love love love!

Leigh Covington said...

Lucky you! And you're right --- we do have fabulous authors with fab events! I love it. I'm excited for this book. I'm glad you hear you LOVED it. It needs to jump the charts on my TBR list to NEXT! :)

Melanie Fowler said...

Oh my, it sounds AMAZING! there are so many things that I want to read right now... it's crazy, I wish I had time to go to every author signing and get all of their books and read them all!

Stacy Henrie said...

Author signings/book launches are so fun! And this sounds like an intriguing read.

Emily R. King said...

I love the book cover. Dan looks like he's having a great time at his signing. What a fun for you both!
Thanks for the recommendation. :)

Tanya Reimer said...

Glad to see he didn't disappoint! Can't wait to read it.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

"I've already read that book..." I love that! Kudos to him. And I love that picture of you. You look so happy.

Kittie Howard said...

You're so right, fresh brings smiles. I'm going to check Dan's book out. And Teralyn's right - you look so happy.

Lynda R Young said...

Sounds like a great book. I also love the cover.

Ruth Josse said...

Awesome! Sounds like you had a great time at the signing. And the book sounds amazing! I was really impressed by Mr. Wells at LTUE.

Ruth Josse said...

Awesome! Sounds like you had a great time at the signing. And the book sounds amazing! I was really impressed by Mr. Wells at LTUE.

The Golden Eagle said...

It sounds like an amazing book! :)

I really enjoyed Cherry Heaven by L. J. Adlington. It's highly futuristic and takes on some of the typical aspects of that kind of fiction, but the plot/characters really stood out, I thought.

Medeia Sharif said...

I enjoy dystopia. I just added this to my wish list.

I love living near fabulous authors. I get to go to many book signings.

Tara Tyler said...

i am so jealous of you utes! its like the silicon vlley of writng!
and i love dan wells (1st book i read & loved, A Night of Blacker Darkness, hilarious!)

going to check out this Partial!

Jessie Humphries said...

I loved I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER. SO much! I got to get his new one. I'd like to be commissioned one day!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad you got to meet him and get an autographed copy!
Last really great book I read was Lies of Locke Lamora.

Valentina Hepburn said...

This sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it. Thanks so much for the review.

David P. King said...

Jealous that you have this read already. I need to get my act together and order this novel.

Enjoyed your review. You have excellent taste, so I know I won't be disappointed either. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Thanks for the review! You got me so excited to read it! I think Dan is incredible. And I hope that someday (if I ever got the chance), I'll have as much guts as Dan if a publisher contacted my agent and said, We will pay Peggy to write this book to say, Nope! But I will write THIS.

Adrienne said...

First, I LOVE the facebomb! It looks like you had a great time! Second, I'm definitely going to get this book. Thanks for the recommendation!

Eesti said...

Partials by Dan Wells is unique and riveting, I strongly encourage any Young Adult Dystopia fan to read this one. Maybe I am head over heels for this one because I didn't have high expectations. Thank goodness I ignored some of the remarks I'd heard, because I walked away from this novel completely entertained. I enjoyed every second of it and had a hard time putting it down.

Samm, a character we (unfortunately) do not get to meet right away, has me smitten. I adore him. He really kept my head in the story. There were other characters that I wanted to connect with, but I just couldn't do it. The plot had me intrigued- I find the humans vs. partials story fascinating. The best part is that there is a little surprise at the end, and I love it. Love a good little twist. Speaking of twist- what a world! Dan Wells really did a superb job vividly describing his world in Partials. I could see everything.

 
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