Adam's Reviews > The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
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Jan 02, 13

I was a little saddened after finishing Wind Up Girl and discovering that the Bacigalupi’s next book was going to be a young adult. I find this an annoying trend of authors of complex, adult, and sophisticated speculative literature to chasing YA dollar. Teens have everything these days grumpy old me says, leave me my speculative fiction. So instead of rushing out and getting his next title I decided to wait and see. I got my hands on both Ship Breaker and its sequel/sidepiece Drowned Cities and read them in a couple of days. I can’t endorse authors going YA (insert essay about our youth obsessed culture here), but if the results are this good, I won’t complain (excited about Railsea by the way). He has created a full world in these pages, a grim vision of a possible future that is painfully believable. Taking dire speculation on oil and global warming but mixed with prophetic horrors of the developing world (visions of children living in garbage dumps in South America and India and the terrors of Sierra Leon’s brutal civil war give these books resonance). The characters that fill this shattered, desiccated world are just as believable. The youth of the protagonists, the happy but uncertain endings, and the straight forward prose is the only concessions the authors makes towards fitting them into the YA mold. A lack of humor, subtlety, and over seriousness are some accusations with merit against these books, but I feel its tone is well earned. I smell a trilogy coming on (especially because of the character Tool) but I feel these books deserve a capstone. Everyone with well-thumbed copies of the Hunger Games needs to snatch these books up immediately, and Wind Up Girl. While the books are separate from the author’s debut, the worlds and concerns are so similar it wouldn’t be a stretched to place them as a singular unit.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Djs (new) - rated it 4 stars

Djs True. I like the comparison with the Hunger Games. I read them myself and enjoyed them. I only worry about America's future especially with the futuristic novels predicting it's downfall like in the Hunger Games and The Drowned Cities.

message 2: by A. (new) - rated it 5 stars

A. S. I also think that this book is a possible vision of our future.

V.a.m. You couldn't be more right with the common transition of great authors going from adult to YA, looking for the big bucks. It is a shame, but honestly the YA always seem to be more popular, so I don't think that he cares how good his book actually is, as long as it is making him some good money. But Bacigalupi does still manage to create a full world, as you said, and I am really glad that he at least didn't skimp out in the setting of the novels, because honestly, those are the best part.

message 4: by Jackie (new) - added it

Jackie Does it really matter that much what its labeled as? I've read plenty of really excellent YA novels that are just as complex and sophisticated as so-called adult novels. There's just as many bad books to wade through in YA fiction as adult fiction. The only reason YA gets a bad rep is because it gets lumped in with the Twilight-esque crap, and because teenagers are viewed by adults as stupid and lazy/ They couldn't possibly be intelligent enough to understand "real" literature. This is all completely erroneous and doesn't give the younger generation half the credit it deserves. I hope this novel helped erase some of those stereotypes from your mind. Young adults are our future. Maybe I'm stupid, but I can't wrap my head around this disdain for YA novels that seems to be cropping up everywhere.

Zara I completely agree with Jackie. As an intelligent twenty-year-old, I get really frustrated when people talk about YA literature (and by extension, young adults) as being less valuable and worthwhile than adult literature (or adults). Sure, there are crappy YA books. And there are crappy children's books. And there are crappy adult books. So what? A good book is a good book, no matter the age of the characters or audience. Heck, The Phantom Tollbooth is still one of my favorites, and it's a children's book. Was Norton Juster wasting his talents? I should think not.

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