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The Drowned Cities Hardcover – May 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-In the ruins of an America toppled by greed, gas shortages, and flooding caused by climate change, civil war runs rampant. Orphans Mahlia and Mouse have been taken in by a kindly doctor, but when they cross the wrong soldier boys, even he may not be able to save them. Mahlia has turned hateful and pessimistic since the maiming that left her without a right hand. She decides that hope lies in saving a bioengineered soldier-beast, a half-man, who could protect her as she flees the Drowned Cities. It is only when Mouse is taken by soldier boys that Mahlia turns deep into the city's broken heart to try to rescue him. Joshua Swanson brings to life Bacigalupi's dark and compelling companion (2012) to his Printz Award-winning title, Ship Breaker (2010, both Little, Brown). Good pacing and staunch delivery keep listeners on the edge of their seats as Mahlia and Mouse fight to survive in a post-apocalyptic America. The inclusion of a creepy half-man ratchets up the tension a notch for the whole second half of the listening experience. In libraries where patrons are clamoring for solid dystopian novels, this will be a solid choice.-Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Best of YA Book

A 2012 VOYA Perfect Ten Book
A 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
A 2012 Los Angeles Public Library Best Teen Book
A 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
A 2013 CBC at Bank Street College Best Children's Books of the Year Book
A 2013 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens Book
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A 2014 Tennessee Volunteer Book Award Nominee

"Suzanne Collins may have put dystopian literature on the YA map with 'The Hunger Games'... but Bacigalupi is one of the genre's masters, employing inventively terrifying details in equally imaginative story lines."―Los Angeles Times

* "Beautifully written, filled with high-octane action, and featuring badly damaged but fascinating and endearing characters, this fine novel tops its predecessor and can only increase the author's already strong reputation."―Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "The novel's greatest success lies in the creation of a world that is so real, the grit and decay of war and ruin will lay thick on the minds of readers long after the final page. The narrative, however, is equally well crafted.... Breathtaking."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Bacigalupi writes with a furious energy that makes this brilliant depiction of an all-too-believable future impossible to forget. A story that will resonate beyond its final page."
Booklist, starred review

* "Bacigalupi's intense, action-filled novel is a heartbreaking and powerfully moving portrait of individual resiliency amidst extreme circumstances that rivals, if not surpasses, the excellence of its predecessor."―The Horn Book, starred review

* "Bacigalupi brings to life a post-apocalyptic America that thrills the mind."―VOYA, starred review

"A compelling read, this engaging book does not glorify war and violence, but shows its true nature."―School Library Journal

"A new Paolo Bacigalupi novel is reason to celebrate--no matter how old you are."―The Associated Press

"A heartbreaking tale of loyalty and the fight to survive."―Library Media Connection

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316056243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316056243
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paolo Bacigalupi is a Hugo, Nebula, and Michael L. Printz Award Winner, as well as a National Book Award Finalist. He is also a winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the John W. Campbell Award, and a three-time winner of the Locus Award. His short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, and High Country News. He lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is working on a new novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The Drowned Cities'" predecessor (and loose companion) "Ship Breaker" has already won Printz and was short-listed for National Book Award, and rightfully so. But I am wondering right now - was it not a tad premature to give Paolo Bacigalupi all these accolades? Because, frankly, "The Drowned Cities" is a far superior novel in comparison and, I guess, it is hard to expect similar acknowledgment of it, even if it is deserved? It appears, most of these awards are given once and the awarded authors are then promptly ignored? I wouldn't want this novel to be overlooked.

"The Drowned Cities" is a completely different story from "Ship Breaker." Paolo's intent for "Ship Breaker" was to write a boy book, with action, adventure and explosions, and with a little bit of a moral lesson about bravery and loyalty. But I doubt "The Drowned Cities" was written with the same agenda in mind. Or if it was, the final novel far exceeded its original intent. "The Drowned Cities" is a heavy, brutal, unequivocally message-driven story that no one will dismiss as a simple entertainment.

This is a story of war. The kind of war that is playing out in many parts of our world right now. The setting of "The Drowned Cities" is futuristic/dystopian (slightly post-apocalyptic?) - natural resources are scarce, global warming has caused a climate change and extensive flooding of many parts of the planet, US is torn by civil war the reasons for which no one can any longer remember, China is a mega power that attempts to act as a peacekeeper, there are genetically augmented "people" who do rich men's bidding in all spheres of life from war combat to sexual services (this later "sphere" is not actually written into this YA novel, but a part of the larger "The Windup Girl" universe).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha VINE VOICE on April 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. Few authors can blow me away like Bacigalupi can. After I finished this book, I had to just sort of sit there catching my breath (I felt the same way after finishing Ship Breaker). Bacigalupi can *go there* like no other YA author I've read.

This book is brutal and no punches are pulled, but not in a gratuitous way. The violence is real and believable and absolutely necessary to the story. Actually, it IS the story.

This is a companion novel to Ship Breaker: America is no longer, and the east-central region is rife with civil war. There are several factions fighting for control, each calling themselves true patriots, but are really just warlords seeking power. Everything about it reminds me of certain areas of Africa, which made it real and extremely uncomfortable, and yet I couldn't stop reading.

Mahlia and Mouse have grown up in the Drowned Cities, which is the Washington D.C. area. They knew a short time of Peace when China intervenes in an attempt to end the fighting (and this reminds me of the Middle East). In the end, though, China pulls out and the fighting resumes as though it had never stopped. Ten years isn't long enough to erase animosity and hatred, real or imagined. Any semblance of peace is shattered, and soldiers go where they please, take whatever they want in the name of patriotism, and leave a path of destruction behind them. Mahlia and Mouse learned how to stay out of the soldiers' paths, but then Tool enters their lives.

Tool is the only character from Ship Breaker--half man, half animal hybrid of dog, hyena, tiger, and a few other predators. He was built with one purpose in mind, to fight in a war.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Welling on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First Impressions: Paolo Bacigalupi's novel, Ship Breaker, was incredible! For anyone who has not already read the book, you are totally missing out! The Drowned Cities was high on my list of must-reads for this year since I loved the first book so much. This author has an amazing talent and I knew that he would be able to write a wonderful companion novel to Ship Breaker. I have to say that I think I like the cover art more on this book as well. Paolo really takes the dystopian genre to a whole new level!

First 50 Pages: I would be hesitant to suggest reading The Drowned Cities to a younger reader. This book like the last is dark and gritty all the way around. The setting is dark, there is some cursing and drug use, the characters are highly flawed, and there are some sexual bits thrown in for good measure. So if any of those things make you feel uncomfortable, you may want to pass on reading this book. However, what I love about this book is that it is plausible and the hope for the characters isn't completely lost even though the conditions everyone faces are extremely drab. You don't have to look very far to find all of the good messages this book contains.

Paolo's writing is fabulous as usual in The Drowned Cities, which for me, was expected. The pacing of the book seemed to run well, although I think that this book had much more action then the last. Just know that the author doesn't hold back when describing anything, so you get all of the dirty little details about everything gruesome and disgusting. I also think that both genders will love this book, as well as adult readers. I know that once I picked it up, it was so difficult to put back down. A lot of people felt that the first book was more geared towards boys, but I disagree. Girls like lots of action too!
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