Paul's Reviews > The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
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May 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: e-book, science-fiction, young-adult, four-star-plus
Read from May 09 to 15, 2012

Actual rating: 4.5 stars.

The physical world is oppressively present in Bacigalupi's fiction, as it is in Margaret Atwood's dystopian novels (Oryx and Crake; The Year of the Flood): a world changed for the worse by global warming, with island nations wiped out and coastal areas no longer habitable; a world further ruined by human shortsightedness, where genetically engineered plant viruses introduced into the environment by agricultural conglomerates in order to wipe out competitors' crops have made grain more valuable than oil; a world where warlords use child soldiers to fight over salvage rights in the ruins of once-great cities. And yet there are hints that somewhere in the world pockets of educated and wealthy civilization remain, and Bacigalupi's outcast children -- yes, much of his writing is directed at a young adult audience -- see that promise as their city on the hill, and try to escape their desperate circumstances.

Katniss, you pussy, you have it easy compared to Mahlia and Mouse. At least Panem has a government. Imagine Joseph Kony and an army of drugged boys occupying half of what was once Washington DC, now partially submerged in the Atlantic, with only the upper floors of buildings rising above the brackish water. Imagine the Taliban occupying what remains. Imagine being a child in such an environment, abandoned, outcast, potential prey for human enemies, not to mention the genetically engineered coywolves running about and hunting in packs.

I really should list this as a banned book and beat the rush, because when the helicopter parents who have challenged Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games see the darkness here, they will surely put The Drowned Cities on their target list. Dark? Black ... and yet there is a ray of hope, if you squint hard enough, and the implicit promise of sequels.

And what a story! Like most good YA novels, this one will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It is pure hair-raising yarn, with action that never stops. I swear, I was panting by the end. Paolo Bacigalupi is wicked good.
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message 1: by Djs (new) - rated it 4 stars

Djs I agree with everything except for the banning. Kids are too soft as it is. If they can't deal with this book, then America is going to become how it is portrayed in the novel.


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