September 1, 2012
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
A future United States is ripped apart by a bloody civil war, and the landscape has been altered by melting polar ice caps, flooding coast line cities. In this companion book to Ship Breaker, Tool, a genetically created human/animal designed to kill, is now further north than the gulf coast setting in Ship Breaker. Captured by one of the warring factions, he has now escaped and is hiding in the jungle. He is near death. Mahalia is a young girl who is mixed race, her father a chinese "peacekeeper", and her mother American. She is considered an outcast, or "war maggot" and has been beaten and maimed (one of her hands chopped off) by the warring groups. She has been taken in by a peace loving doctor and trained to help him treat victims of the war. She is devoted to Mouse a young boy that helped save her, and who has also been taken in by the doctor. When their village is savagely taken over by a battalion, she fights back, causing embarrassment and damage to the soldiers. She escapes to the jungle with Mouse where she runs into Tool. Tool takes Mouse captive, promising to release him, if Mahalia brings him antibiotics. Returning to Tool with the doctor and promised medicines, she treats Tool, against the will of the doctor. Returning to the village, the doctor is killed, and Mouse recruited to be a soldier. This sets in motion the union of Tool and Mahalia to search for and find Mouse.
This book will hold you from first page to last. It is well written, moves quickly, unexpected plot twists, and well developed characters and setting. The book, at least for me, was a commentary on the current situation in the Middle East, where more than a generation knows nothing more than war, children are recruited as soldiers, there is no value for human life, "peacekeepers" have attempted, but failed to help, and any sense of humanity is lost to the "cause". An excellent read, but for older, mature readers because of the extreme violence.
Reed Reads Score: 4.5