Very carefully...and vaguely...
Ruins continues directly addressing difficult questions of ethics and morality. The "doorknob scene" is masterful as Kira weighs her options, vacillating between the proverbial rock and hard place. "If I have the chance to save even one life, and I don't do it, am I a killer? If I have the chance to save the entire world and I let it die, how much worse am I?...Can I live with myself if I do this? Can anyone live at all if I don't?"
The line between surviving and living is explored. What makes life worth living? Is life worth living without love, friends, hope? Is simply surviving enough? The fact that the two "sides" are struggling with the same questions makes the situation all the more poignant. Speaking to Heron, Kira articulates the difference: "Survival is important...but not if you lose yourself in the process. Surviving just to survive is...empty. That's not a life, it's a feedback loop."
With all this deep moralizing going on, you might think the book would lack in action or in plot twists. And then you would be wrong. Very, very wrong. One character's devastating decision literally took my breath away for a few minutes.
As a wrap-up to the Partials trilogy, Ruins was very satisfying. Ultimately, Wells takes an optimistic view of humanity. We - both as a species and as individuals - screw up, royally sometimes, but we can do hard things, we don't stop trying, and we care fiercely. And that gives life meaning and purpose beyond survival.
** Disclosure: Dan Wells and I were friends during our freshman year at BYU. But I really think I would have liked his books even if we hadn't hung out in the Deseret Towers cafeteria years and years ago.
by Dan Wells
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