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The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: dystopian-fiction, fiction, science-fiction
Read in July, 2012

One of Our Best Recent Dystopian Science Fiction Novels

Set in the same petroleum-free dystopian future history as his critically acclaimed “Shipbreaker”, with characters and a setting as compelling as his great literary debut “The Windup Girl”, Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Drowned Cities” ranks among our best recent dystopian Science Fiction novels. It is also among the finest novels published this year, a mesmerizing tale about war and survival, friendship and loyalty that I have found far more compelling than recently published dystopian fiction from the likes of Ernest Cline, Colson Whitehead and Karen Thompson Walker. Paolo Bacigalupi demonstrates once more why he is one of our most impressive young writers of science fiction, conjuring yet another spellbinding tale that takes readers into some of the darkest corners of human behavior, emphasizing American Civil War Union general William T. Sherman’s observation that “War is Hell”. With “The Drowned Cities”, Baciogalupi offers ample evidence that he is becoming one of the finest prose stylists writing in contemporary science fiction, joining the ranks of such impressive stylists as China Mieville and Michael Swanwick, and deservedly worthy of appealing to a broad spectrum of readers, not only those interested in Young Adult fiction. An unlikely encounter with a bioengineered living weapon of war, Tool, plunges adolescent outcasts Mahlia and Mouse into an epic journey of survival, as they attempt fleeing the pillaged, almost desolate, war-torn landscape of the Drowned Cities, located amidst a bleak dystopian futuristic America that readers may find all too probable. Theirs is also an epic quest in attaining adulthood, brought about by circumstances beyond their control – and those all too brutal and harsh -within a fictional setting far darker and dire than that depicted in Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”. Without question, “The Drowned Cities” is one that merits ample consideration for science fiction’s highest literary honors; it is such an engrossing work that it should be noticed and celebrated by those familiar only with mainstream literary Anglo-American fiction too.
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