There've been a lot of discussions, lately, over the validity of my career choice. True: I don't make a lot of money. I have to work on Saturdays. There isn't a ton of room for advancement (although I'd like to think that the library values me enough that if I needed desperately to work full time, they'd help me do that).
But, you know, despite the negatives, I love my job. The most stressful thing at work? The elevator. It smells vaguely like a carnival ride thanks to some persistent elevator-peeing boys a few years ago and the fact that it tends to need to be worked on quite often. Faint, ancient-urine + motor-oil scents = carnival ride in my book, but there isn't an amusement park thrill I'm less likely to visit than the library elevator. Being claustrophobic means I don't get along with them in the first place, but throw me in one that has the tendency to stop between floors? Cue elevated heart rate and sweaty palms.
Anyway---if the elevator is my job's most stressful part, I count myself fairly lucky in where I work. And plus, there are plenty of perks! For example, I get to talk about books to people who (usually) love reading. I get to see new books and place them on the shelf. I get to have my very own shelf to put my recommended reads and it's still thrilling to me when someone who doesn't know me picks up a book I've suggested. And! another perk: sometimes we librarians get to do the really cool stuff, which in my book (tee hee) is interacting with real, live authors. I mean: holy cow. I drove to Salt Lake City in the car with Marilynne Robinson! I had dinner with Laurie Halse Anderson! Ursula K. Le Guin almost decided to come to our library, and when we did To Kill a Mockingbird for our city reads program, Harper Lee sent us a letter. Yes, it's true, I have touched a letter written by Harper Lee.
Sometimes those writerly interactions result in another perk: the ARC. Advanced Reader's Copy, to spell it out. In December I got to read the ARC of Dan Wells's new novel, Partials, and let me just say: reading a real, live, bound book that still had some typos in it? Strangely thrilling to this aspiring writer!
The book's premise:
Sixteen-year-old Kira, who has received medical training and works in the labor and delivery unit of the community's hospital, ends up taking her desperation in a different way. She has a sort of ah-ha moment of realization about the study of RM and wants to explore new directions. This desire leads her on her adventure, which is the crux of the story.
What I thought:
If a good dystopia takes a current scientific issue to its extreme application, the question this book asks isn't really "what if we develop technology that is more powerful than we are?" but "What if we never learn how to control our hunger for power?" In that sense, even though it's a dystopia founded in technology, it isn't really about technology but the social experience.
Another thing I liked was the teenaged characters. (More about the adult ones in a bit.) It is interesting that the teenagers, given the right knowledge, are able to see what adults cannot. I think that sometimes proves true in real life, too. Being less jaded than we are, teenagers are able to see a fresh perspective and thus things we overlook. The adult characters, however, seemed a little flat, too bound by their desire to save the world to see a new way of doing just that. Several of the reviews I read (after reading the book!) said the same thing.
Another thing lots of the reviewers said: they didn't think there was enough foreshadowing for the big surprise at the end of the book. Really? I sort of had the opposite reaction. Of course Kira...well, I can't really say what the big reveal is because I'm hoping you'll read the book too. But I saw the surprise coming and I think Dan Wells did do a good job in foreshadowing it.
So, there you have it: Partials by Dan Wells. A little gritty, a little edgy, but not smutty in the least. (In fact, the lack of almost any perceptible sexual tension was something else I enjoyed; the romantic triangle is getting more than a little bit worn out in my book.) And, if you like that sort of thing, it's got a lot of battles. I tend to sort of just skim over battle scenes, no matter how compelling the book is, and this book stayed true to that. Battle scenes? Eh. Sort of boring to me. (That is true for movies, too.)
The only problem with reading an ARC? (Aside from the fact that yes, there really are typos fairly often, and strange quotation marks in random marginal spots.) It's that now I have to wait even that much longer to read the sequel. Put perhaps, just maybe, I might get lucky again with another ARC. It's one of the perks, you know!