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The Drowned Cities

(Ship Breaker #2)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  9,978 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews
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, you
Hardcover, 437 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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George Scott It doesn't matter the order you read them. They are unrelated IMHO. Only one character is shared in the stories, and he has a small role in one of the…moreIt doesn't matter the order you read them. They are unrelated IMHO. Only one character is shared in the stories, and he has a small role in one of them.

Paula Kraft Multiple. You get to see Mahlia's, Mouse's, Tool's, the soldier boy's, their commanding officer's and more. In some cases you'll find a decision made …moreMultiple. You get to see Mahlia's, Mouse's, Tool's, the soldier boy's, their commanding officer's and more. In some cases you'll find a decision made by one to seem right and then questionable when you hear from another character.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  9,978 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews

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Start your review of The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2)
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Mockingjay, Chaos Walking
As seen on The Readventurer

The Drowned Cities' predecessor (and loose companion) Ship Breaker has already won Printz and was short-listed for National Book Award, and rightfully so. But I am wondering right now - was it not a tad premature to give Paolo Bacigalupi all these accolades? Because, frankly, The Drowned Cities is a far superior novel in comparison and, I guess, it is hard to expect similar acknowledgment of it, even if it is deserved? It appears, most of these awards are given once an
Emily May
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana, Catie

Sometimes a book is just all that much better for being so disgustingly horrible. For not glossing over the gruesome details, for keeping the reader hooked in wide-eyed horror. This is that kind of book. The author doesn't waste his time on niceties, this story's about the harsh realities of survival and the unfortunate lengths that people have to go to in order to just stay alive. This book is nasty and gritty, and yet none of the violence and gore felt gratuitous, and above all else Pao
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

Being unemployed can be nice. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to read a book all the way through, barely stopping for meals or a drink. Since this was such a page-turner, I surely would have been late to work or missed an appointment.

Though this is the sequel to Ship Breaker, there is a different set of characters. Mahlia and Mouse are two young refugees who fled their home to escape the terrible violence going on in the Drowned Cities. Now they are in the ca
4 1/2 stars

Many of you (and I’m guessing possibly even the author himself) will laugh me off this small stage when I confess that I find Paolo Bacigalupi’s novels to be incredibly hopeful. Seriously. Now, admittedly, this is an author who writes all about the end of the world as we know it and what we’ve done to bring ourselves here. The Drowned Cities is about the irrevocable loss of childhood innocence, the harsh realities of survival, and the grasping, selfish nature of humankind. His novels
I've read 3 Bacigalupi books, and they've taken the maximum haul of 15 stars between them.

Why do I love his work so much? It's hard to say. He's bleak as f#ck - but he's also quite, quite, brilliant.

This is a sequel, but it's a new cast of characters set in the same world as Ship Breaker. It's a dystopian future: civilization in the USA has collapsed. The Chinese were peacekeepers, but even they've left now and the land is a torn-up mess of civil war, genocide and child-soldiers - rape and mutil
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012, e-books
4.5 stars 

What a great fun read. This book was almost as good as Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is the second book in the series, but it revolves around an entirely different cast.

Mahilia and Mouse, two likable young adult protagonists gave this book a lot of feelings and heart. Unlike Ship Breaker this book was not as gloomy or filled with an overwhelming feeling of death and decay. Nailer, from the first book, had a much more difficult life and a far gloomier outlook on his future.

I've had plenty of time to mull over this book and my review, and yet...I still can't quite find words for it. There's just something about this novel, something about the way it just sucks you in, that it's hard to write about. Let's start out, then, with some things about it that are concrete.

The futuristic, dystopian setting is fabulous. It's dark and gritty. It's incredibly believable in a way that is unnerving. As I wrote in my review of Ship Breaker, it "took those mediocre dystopian The G
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 m
Set in the same fallen world as "Ship Breakers", this book follows the story of Mahlia, a young girl left to survive on her own after the Chinese peacekeepers abandon their efforts to stop the fighting in what is left of the eastern seaboard of the USA, now called the Drowned Cities. Mahlia is what the call a cast-off, a child of a Chinese peackeeper and a resident of the Drowned Cities. When her father is evacuated back to China, she and her mother are targeted by fanatical "patriots" for colla ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, young-adult
It's like driving with the handbrake on.

Paolo Bacigalupi is the Hugo and Nebula award winning author of one of my favourite all time books, The Windup Girl. It was for adults. It was brutal and dark and filled with the vision of a genius. The fact that he is choosing to waste his talent on writing for children upsets me.

Drowned Cities is a dystopian novel, filled with teenage characters fighting a multi-generational patriotic war that can never be won. His characters are simply trying to surviv
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is a small country in West Africa called Sierra Leone which is rich in diamonds. In 1991 a civil war erupted and left the small country in a blood bath. No home was safe. Families and friends meant nothing to many. Common practices for recruiting soldiers were to kidnap boys at the appropriate age, drug them until addicted, then keep them semi-drugged while they committed their first atrocities. They were then addicted to narcotics they could only acquire through soldiering and their neuro ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was fantastic. I love this kind of gritty, hard-hitting, fearless YA...well, I think it's YA. I don't know if it's YA. I don't care. It was a great read. It was a little explain-y but that was overshadowed by the wonderful characters and their plights. Good good stuff.
Francesca Forrest
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(review duplicates what I posted on LJ)

I loved Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, the story of Nailer, a boy who works stripping ancient oil tankers in a globally warmed futureworld, whose life changes when he and his friend Pima discover a shipwrecked luxury clipper. The world was vivid, and the characters were wonderful, so I was very excited to be entrusted with an advance copy of The Drowned Cities, which the publisher describes as a companion to Ship Breaker.

The Drowned Cities does share one
One of my biggest selling points in any book is tension. I talk a lot in my reviews about tension, and generally it's because I'm talking about the lack of it. But what I mean when I talk about tension is a lot of things, actually. It's not just the internal tension in the story, between characters, say, or two factions. That's only part of it. When I'm talking about tension, I'm also talking about the way your gut reacts to a story. The best stories have tension you can actually feel. They caus ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rarely does a sequel stand up beside an outstanding first book in a series and equal its quality and intensity, but this own does and more: DROWNED CITIES is actually better than SHIPBREAKER in two important ways. It maintains a breakneck speed of narrative momentum without losing fantastic characterization and writing. And even more: it requires less investment and time to get caught up than the original novel did, and because the world is the same, but the characters are different—all except T ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: war, dystopia, 14-16
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'll read pretty much anything by this author at this point. Drowned Cities takes place in the same world as Shipbreaker, but there are no crossover characters except Tool. Tool is pretty damn cool, and I want more about him. Hard to tell whether this came before or after Shipbreaker timeline-wise.

Our main character is Mahlia. Her father was Chinese military who came to the Drowned Cities (near Washington DC after flooding destroyed much of it) to try to stop the collapse of American society int
A finished copy was provided by the publisher for review.

What does it mean when the one person you value most in the world is taken from you? You fight back of course. And that’s what Mahlia does. Mahlia is so unbelievably stubborn. She just does what she wants and most times she gets in trouble when she makes the wrong decisions.

Omg! Intense and heart pounding! I love this one. Half men are scary as heck! Can you imagine a human with coyote, dog and tiger genes running through his veins? That’s
Dana Berglund
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: youngadult
Generally speaking, I usually really enjoy companion books that are linked to but not direct sequels of other books.
I know that I'm supposed to love this book, and that I'm supposed to be moved by the fact that the author tackles such a heavy subject as "child soldiers"...I think I'm supposed to be able to react genuinely to the horror because, by setting the story in a dystopian future United States (the Drowned Cities are the DC metro area), we can both relate to and distance ourselves from th
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I decided to read this and The Drowned Cities since I enjoyed The Windup Girl so much. Ship Breaker is definitely YA and like The Windup Girl is a reasonable preview of how Earth will look in 50 or 100 years. The gengineering is much less certain than their ecofictional aspects.

Four stars for the science, characters and plot. Three stars for the complexity and layers. It is all rather straight forward and obvious. There's not a lot to think about unless you're ignorant about global warming or a
Jason Cruz
Feb 15, 2011 marked it as to-read
I want to read this because it is the sequal to "Ship Breaker" and I thought that it was a good book
Jamie Dacyczyn
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hmm, I'm conflicted on book 2 of this trilogy. I feel like it's a GOOD book, but I didn't really LIKE it, if that makes sense. It was less adventure than the first one, and more just....grungy and depressing. It felt a little bit drawn out at times, and I think this would have been a three star book for me but then it pulled together at the end with a burst of action. Unfortunately, that ending made me want to know what happens to THESE characters, when I suspect book 3 doesn't follow the same c ...more
Jul 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The series continues its story with a seemingly minor character, which in retrospect turns out to be both the once removed storyteller as well as the symbol of the period. The story exposes some of the more raw sides of war-zones and the darker sides of mankind. We follow the life of some of the survivors, which managed to relatively maintain their humanity as it is put once again into the test. Will they again be the victim of war or its masters?
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ship Breakers was a bit slow and took a while before I was anything more than just flipping pages; only much later, after the people in it had themselves wrapped around me, did I give a fig. Reading DROWNED CITIES was a little bit like that, only better. Things went fast, that for sure. There’s a girl and there’s and boy; and they each have each other; there’s a doctor who’s too good to be true… and when things start happening and someone’s about to die, I was split between her keep your head do ...more
Summer Rosswog
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Okay, I am a fan! I should be reviewing strictly as a library professional, but since reading "Ship Breaker," I have been looking forward to Bacigalupi's next Y.A. novel. "The Drowned Cities" does not disappoint. In "Ship Breaker," Bacigalupi created a dystopian future world set in the former United States. He was not ready to leave this world and has written another story set in its Drowned Cities (formerly known as Washington D.C. and the surrounding area). Fantastic! He gives us a new adolesc ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
While reading Paolo Bacigalupi's The Drowned Cities, I found myself wondering whether a young adult SFF novel can discuss child soldiers.

I've seen young adult authors tackle emotionally charged themes before. John Green considers suicide and its impact on the survivors in Looking for Alaska, while Sarah Dessen manages to discuss battery in Dreamland quite well.

I'd normally expect SFF to be excellent at taking on big ideas, regardless of how emotionally charged they are. What SFF does tends to do
Krista Stevens
War is hell - in case you didn't know - even in the future in a dystopian world - especially when it's fought by children who are pawns of the few surviving adults. It took me a bit to find my bearings with this book as I kept expecting to see references to the first book - Shipbreaker - but there are almost none. This story takes place in Washington, D.C. (which I could have figured out by the cover, but that explanation was slow in taking shape in the story)and follows the plight of two childr ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
More towards a 3.5 rating. I think those of YA reading persuasion may rate it higher as it's a decent & enjoyable read complete with moral dilemas akin to today's world without really taxing the noodle. That might sound patronising, not intended to folks.

Whats it about? It's about a half-man also known as a dog-face, in reality an augment built years before via a hybrid of genetics from man to tiger to hyena, he's called Tool. Then there's the villagers, The Doctor, a girl called Mahlia & a lad
The Drowned Cities is totally brutal. I was cringing and crying and gasping throughout this book. How can you do this to your characters, Paolo? HOW COULD YOU?
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Play Book Tag: The Drowned Cities - Paolo Bacigalupi (4 1/2 stars) 3 18 Jan 11, 2019 08:06PM  
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Third Book? Reading the first? 3 39 Feb 25, 2014 08:44PM  
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Good Reads 12 1 8 Nov 18, 2013 02:54AM  

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Paolo Bacigalupi is an award-winning author of novels for adults and young people.

His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Grand

Other books in the series

Ship Breaker (3 books)
  • Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)
  • Tool of War (Ship Breaker, #3)

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