Chantaal's Reviews > The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
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's review
Jul 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, dystopian, post-and-apocalyptic
Read from May 13 to 17, 2012

Originally posted at The Wandering Fangirl.

Though labeled as the sequel to 2010′s Ship Breaker, The Drowned Cities is more a novel that takes place in the same universe as the first, and includes one of the minor characters from Ship Breaker to great effect.

The Drowned Cities is not an easy novel to stomach. It’s a story of war, and what that does to a world, from the top of society all the way down. We follow the story of Mahlia, a girl who’s seen the worst of war in the past, and her friend Mouse, a young boy who gets caught in the great war machine. Then there’s Tool, a genetically created half-man, half-animal that somehow has broken free of his training. Between the three characters, there isn’t much to the ravages of war that isn’t touched.

Mahlia is an incredibly strong character, someone who is hard to stomach but easy to root for. She knows what it means to be an outcast, to survive on the outskirts and in the middle of a war when she needs to. Scrappy, independent, hard, she forges her way through the drowned cities of a future war-torn America to save her friend. Mouse is a little harder to take as a character, and it’s the sympathy of his storyline that got to me. He gets caught up in the war, becomes a soldier boy, and watching his initiation and bonding with his fellow boy soldiers is painful. And it’s real.

Then there’s Tool. Tool, who is such a great force that he overshadows Mahlia and Mouse. He’s got such an amazing presence that it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. Mahlia has her moments to shine beside Tool, but he’s the real star of the novel, in my eyes. He embodies the questions of genetic manipulation, of what it means to have humanity, what it means to be free of your own accord. The fact that he’s a terrifying killer on top of it all seems to be just another aspect of Tool’s personality, which is something I have to applaud Bacigalupi for. He’s created a character so realized, you can’t help but cheer him on and be repulsed by him at the same time.

The Drowned Cities explores what it means to be human, and what horrible things we can do to ourselves and to others if we keep going down the route we are. It’s such a great, great read.
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Reading Progress

05/13/2012 page 37
8.0% "So excited! And the copy I bought had Paolo Bacigalupi's autograph woo~"
05/17/2012 page 326
74.0% "God, this book is so messed up in the best gut wrenching way possible."
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