Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Drowned Cities

Drowned Cities Paolo Bacigalupi book reviewThe Drowned Cities

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Little, Brown, and Company,2012. 436 pgs. Teen fiction (I read the ARC)


In a future U.S., Mahlia is a castoff, the daughter of a Chinese peacekeeper who left her and her mother (a Drowned Cities resident) behind when the Chinese gave up their attempts to stop the various warlord groups from trying to wipe each other out. Mahlia has found refuge with a doctor in a village away from the Drowned Cities, but as a castoff, she's never been accepted by the rest of the villagers. Her one friend, Mouse, is a boy who has been orphaned by the war. When the two discover Tool, a wounded augment (a half-man, half-animal designed for war and killing), who is being hunted by a group of soldiers, Mahlia and Mouse are caught in the middle. As the bloodthirsty soldiers wreak havoc on the land and even force Mouse into their army, Mahlia must convince Tool to help her save her friend, even though the odds of success are essentially impossible.


There is a lot of blood, gore, and violence in this book, made all the more heart-rending by the fact that these are kids, not adults, who are fighting each other and trying to survive. Because of that, it's not an easy book to read, and some readers probably won't be able to stomach it. The violence continues pretty much to the very end, and while there's an element of hope at the end, I didn't quite feel like there was enough of an ending. This would be a good discussion book, as readers could delve into such topics as child soldiers and whether or not redemption is possible, but it's not one that I'd necessarily recommend for any sort of pleasure reading. It's gripping but disturbing.

3.5 stars. Language and LOTS of violence.

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