Review Blog

Aug 31 2012

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

cover image

Atom, 2012. ISBN 9781907411113.
(Age: 13 +) Highly recommended. The Drowned Cities is set in a harsh, war-torn future. Mahlia and Mouse live in a small village with the kind Doctor Mahfouz. They are close friends, ever since Mouse once saved Mahlia's life when they were both trying to get out of the Drowned Cities. When out hunting for food in the jungle one day, they come across a vicious half-man, half-dog creature known as Tool. When Mouse is captured, Mahlia enlists the help of Tool to get him back. But is it worth the risk?
The Drowned Cities is a fantastic novel. Although it really is a sequel to the novel Shipbreaker, it's not at all necessary to read the first before you read this one. In the beginning, the story takes a while to really get going, but by the halfway mark it is utterly engaging. There are many surprising things about this book, but there is one that really stands out. It is the way the writing style and plot contrast with each other in a big way. While the writing style is not basic or simple at all, it is never difficult to read. That can be expected of a normal teen or young adult novel. But the thing that is different is that the book itself is often very violent, and it contains several nasty scenes that will make you squirm in your seat. What makes these scenes so abrasive at the same time is the age of all involved. Mahlia and Mouse are really just children, and even some of the older characters are simply teenagers. This makes the book particularly hard to read at times, in an emotional way.
The characters are fascinating. Tool is one of the best (and most terrifying) characters to come out of a teen novel in the past few years.
Another wonderful thing about the book is the world the characters inhabit. It's a world filled with violence, war and child soldiers. The landscapes are vividly described; so much so you can practically see them. The Drowned Cities would make a terrific movie.
The Drowned Cities is a really unique book. Set in a dystopian, war-torn world, it has amazing characters and a terrifically detailed setting.
I highly recommend this book.
Rebecca Adams (Student)

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