Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Drowned Cities
(Ship Breaker #2)

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Publication Date: May 1st, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Dystopia



Soldier boys emerged from the darkness. Guns gleamed dully. Bullet bandoliers and scars draped their bare chests. Ugly brands scored their faces. She knew why these soldier boys had come. She knew what they sought, and she knew, too, that if they found it, her best friend would surely die. 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.

My Thoughts: I'm feeling kind of bad because this is the second book in the Ship Breaker series and I didn't read the first one. Even though I read them out of order, because I will be reading the first book, I have to say I really enjoyed The Drowned Cities. There were a few things that confused me, but I think I'll understand those things a bit better after I read Ship Breakers. I don't think it makes that much of a difference in terms of the story line since there is only one character in common, so I'm told. This was my first time reading a book by Paolo Bacigalupi and I have to say, he's a pretty darn amazing writer! As for the cover, it probably wouldn't catch my eye right away but after a read through the synopsis, I had to read it.

The Drowned Cities revolves around a few different characters, showing each of their struggles and thoughts. There is Tool, a half-man, who just wants to escape and be free, not taking orders from anyone. Mahlia, a cast off, left by her father to die in the Drowned Cities with her mother. Mouse, a "war maggot", whose family was killed by the soldier boys. Then there is Ocho, one of the soldier boys, but he isn't like the rest, he seems to still have feelings and compassion. All anyone wants is to stay alive and be free, but in the warring world, it's easier said than done. There are very few adults left, so all that is left for recruiting is the children. Giving boys guns isn't exactly the best thing to do. Some of them can get a little trigger happy and ammo is scarce. Can they get their freedom?

One of the nice things about The Drowned Cities is that there was no romance. At least none that I was able to see. It's somewhat of a nice change. We have a kick butt female character who's not drooling over some boy for once. Very refreshing. And Mahlia is pretty kick butt. She is first and foremost a survivor, everything she does is something she feels will ensure her survival. She only has one hand, and yet she still takes off into the jungle to save her friend because while she wants to survive, she is very loyal to Mouse.

Tool,  the half-man is a very interesting character. If you've never read one of these books before, you've probably been wondering what exactly a half-man is. Well, he's a bio engineered beast, whose instinct is to kill. He is human, jackal, bloodhound and tiger, all of their best traits. Super human strength and speed, he can decimate a group of soldiers in no time. He is deadly, and yet he helps Mahlia.

Overall, The Drowned Cities is an action packed story that I had a hard time putting down. You think I would be tired of dystopian worlds after how many I've read recently, but this was really good. I would suggest reading Ship Breaker first because it might give a little more information on the world. I never really figured out why everyone is fighting, so maybe it explains a bit more. I also want more background on Tool, to figure out why he's the way he is. Either way, this was definitely a great story that I really enjoyed and I would highly recommend it!

Thank you HBG Canada for the review copy.


  1. I just learned that this was a companion book to Shipbreaker!
    Thanks for the review --glad you liked it!

    1. Yeah, I didn't realize that it was the second in the series, luckily the stories are not dependant on each other, thanks for stopping by :)

  2. This sounds really good. I love kick butt female characters who's not drooling over a guy - their my favorite :)

    I'll have to check out the 1st book and see what that's all about.

    Awesome review, Jenn!

    1. Thanks! It's really good, I really need to get ahold of the first book :)


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