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The Drowned Cities Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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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 Library Binding edition.
A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Best of YA Book
"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'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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Top customer reviews
I felt like there was some plot recycling.
Overuse of the word ropy.
"You build cloud castles from dream smoke."
WHAT I LOVED
As per usual with Paolo, tension and pacing are great. Some of the best I've ever read.
Ocho's character development from start to finish.
Here is a big duh - The character Tool. I love him so much, I'm going to create a section just for him.
TOOL - and the many ways I love his character
1) The sheer mass of him. Why is this so fascinating to me?
2) Animal-like qualities.
3) Intelligence. And not just stated, demonstrated time after time.
4) He gets treated badly by pretty much everyone, but yet he embodies the good part about humans better than any human.
5) He's stronger, smarter, and more fierce than any opponent.
6) He gets the job done.
7) He's a castoff, and I ache for him.
Well done, Paolo, well done.
The Drowned Citites is a "less nice" story than Ship Breaker, less straightforward, more violent, more filled with despair. This book explores the very grim scenario of civil war. There are not heroes here, only a lot of people trying their best to survive, to escape, to remain as sane as possible in the madness that surrounds them.
As other reviewers have said, this is a very violent story. As violent as civil wars get, there is a lot of upleasant words like "rape" and "mutilation" and "child soldiers" in this book. If you want to read a happy ending, don't let Ship Breaker misguide you, The Drowned Cities hasn't one.
This book feels also like the chance for one of Ship Breaker's best characters to shine by his own. Yes, this is a book about Tool. If you read Ship Breaker, you know what I'm talking about; if you didn't, well, trust me: it's a good thing.
A good read, you'll be through it before you know it, and still you won't be dissapointed.
As with Ian McDonald recent turn to "young adult" fiction (Planesrunner and Be My Enemy (Book Two of the Everness Series), as an adult I have been disappointed to see Bacigalupi writing young adult fiction rather than adult fiction. Although in both cases the quality of the work is not greatly harmed. Drowned Cities is well written, with well drawn characters and a memorable, but dark, future world.
The world of Drowned Cities is Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Congo brought to Washington DC and the American South. The rise of the seas has shattered the United States. Rather than investing in armoring their cities, as China has, the Southern United States has degenerated into warlordism with armies of child soldiers. The flooded cities are being mined for their raw materials while the armies fight a nihilistic war over the bones of the dead empire of the United States. For a decade China sent peace keepers to try to help and bring peace to the waring factions. The Chinese humanitarian effort came to an end as China tired of the constant guerilla fighting against their humanitarian effort.
When the Chinese leave, they leave behind "castoff" children, one of whom is Mahlia - a half Chinese half "Drown Cities" girl. The story is largely the story of Mahlia and her struggles to live, both physically and spiritually in this dark world of constant war.
Like everything Paolo Bacigalupi writes, Drowned Cities is a good book, but it is his darkest work yet. Just like the civil war Africa of Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Drowned Cities world is dark and horrific in many ways.
Reading this book I kept thinking "This is young adult literature?" The Drowned Cities world is extremely dark, beyond a dystopian future into the chaos of civil war and child soldiers. While there is no explicit sex in the book, as with all young adult literature, there are frequent mentions of "Nailshed Girls", who work in brothels that service the warring factions. The Drowned Cities world relentlessly exploits people, as soldiers, slave labor or sexual providers. Those who resist or are captured by rival factions are killed in terrible ways.
I don't believe in keeping books from children or "young adult" readers, but I don't think that I would give this book as a present to a young teenager. To me this seems like an adult work, but perhaps I am naive about the world of teenagers who play the current generation of ultra-violent video games.