Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 2012
Pages: 448
Source: ARC from publisher
For: Review
Series: Companion to Ship Breaker

Mahlia and Mouse are war maggots - cast off children caught in the midst of the many wars that ravage a future America.  While trying to escape the dangerous gang-plagued streets of the cities, they come upon something even more dangerous in the wild jungles - a half man on the run.  They must form a tentative alliance with this creature in order to be free from the soldiers, but when something terrible happens, Mahlia must make the choice between friendship and freedom. 

Things I Liked:
Once again, Bacigalupi has created a future world that is terrifying, realistic, vivid, and engrossing.  I honestly couldn't stop thinking about how some of this stuff might actually happen to us in the future.  I think it is a testament to his skill as a writer that the world felt so real, from the coywolv to the jungle to Tool himself, it began to feel not made up.  The story was interesting as well, but took kind of a back seat to the setting and world building (and Tool) for me.  Tool, though, was fascinating.  I remember wanting to know more about him when I finished Ship Breaker, and this book delivered.  He was complex and mysterious and so intriguing.  I loved trying to figure out what he was thinking, what he would do and why.  Mahlia was also fabulous, being stubborn, smart, but also foolish and impetuous - in short, believable.  This is truly complex and well-written dystopian/futuristic fiction.

Things I Didn't Like:
I was not invested in what happened to Mahlia and Mouse nearly as much as Tool (though that might be because of the first book piquing my interest in him).  It seemed to sometimes not know quite where it was headed.  The ending was action-packed and crazy, making up for the parts where I thought it was slower.  I like Ship Breaker maybe a little better, but this one is still exceptionally good.

Start with Ship Breaker, though it isn't necessary to read that one first
Partials by Dan Wells
A bit like The Death Cure by James Dashner

s-factor: ! 
not much, actually

mrg-factor: X 
kind of vague implied stuff, but nothing happens on page

v-factor: ->->->->
some pretty vivid details, and often

Overall rating: ****

Which do you prefer - companions or sequels (or both)?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Your characterization of Bacigalupi's worlds as "terrifying, realistic, vivid, and engrossing" is perfect, based on his other stuff. I can't wait to read this, especially because of what you wrote about the ending!

    1. I haven't read anything else of his (except Ship Breaker, obviously) but if this is typical, I've got to try his other stuff!

  2. So this is a companion, not necessarily a sequel, right? Same world?

    1. I think it is chronologically after Ship Breaker and in the same world, but with only one character making a reappearance in this one. I'm pretty sure it's just a companion.

  3. Sounds interesting. Follow me at novareviews.blogspot.com!

    1. I'll check out your site, thanks for stopping by.


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