The Drowned Cities
May 11, 2012
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publish Date:5/1/2012 ISBN:9780316056243
In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.
This is a dark, dark YA novel. Definitely for the older end of the spectrum. I will also say that even though the main character is a girl, I would consider this more of a "boy" book. It's filled with fighting and violence and descriptively ugly occurrences. I, as an adult, was wincing several times through the story.
It very much comes across as if you were reading an article about the hostilities in Sierra Leone from a first person account, but set in the future. Now as I say this I don't mean it's written like that, in fact the writing and story flow nicely, it's just that everything I read was smacking of occurrences I've seen on the news. A mix of future and present, with the locations kept purposely vague. In fact I don't even believe any dates are given.
The "dog-faced" man is an interesting touch to the story, with his superhuman strength and animal senses. You want to feel for the torture he endured at the hands of his master, but in the end there's so much torture and violence that he simply becomes another character on the pile of miserable living creatures. The author tries his best to pull empathy and humanity from these characters and he does succeed to an extent, but then they do something else horrible and the emotion quickly fades.
For a young adult wanting the thrill of war and fear in a book written at their level, this will please.
Reviewed by Idgie. If you would like to have the Dew review a book, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org