Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

A disclaimer; I know this book was a sequel or companion book or something to Ship Breaker, but I have not read Ship Breaker. I knew that picking up the book, yet I recklessly read it anyways. Cheers!

An amazon summary to say all the stuff I don't really want to, "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, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

That summary actually reveals right around a quarter of the way through the book, and this pleases me. Well done!

Moving on.

So Mahila and Mouse are 'war maggots'; people who have been displaced by the war in the drowned cities and struggle to survive wherever they wind up.

Something I want to say about this book up front; it's very gruesome. There's a lot of vivid details and it actually felt like reading a much cooler Heart of Darkness; much cooler in the sense that it wasn't Heart of Darkness, there weren't random metaphors lurking about, I had a pretty clear idea of what was happening all the time, and there were some science fiction elements to it that were pretty neat in a terrifying way. It's gruesome as it is a war book, so people get blown up, they get ravaged by animals, and the violence is bloody, gory, gross.

So Mahila and Mouse saved each other in one manner or other and develop a bond that is much stronger than friends & family; but no they are not in love. That is one thing I applaud this book for, not a love story anywhere to be seen. Proof that not all books need romance. MWAHAHAHA. Although it is rather bloody. Uh...WHATEVER. MOVING ON.

So presumably in the last book Mahila lost her hand to one of the warring factions. She only has her 'lucky' left hand left. She still has both of her feet. She was saved by Mouse and is eternally grateful and blah blah blah (the book reiterates this point a lot, but not frequently; mostly when 'big' decisions are being made). She and Mouse are very cute together with their banter and easy companionship. At the beginning of the book, we learn a lot about the heart of the characters which was nice for a war book.

As the book moves on, Tool comes into more center stage focus as he is what brings the soldiers to the village, threatens mouse's life, and forces Mahila to bring him medicines.


After that, it's basically unending action as they weave through the world to achieve their goals. Mouse is almost killed by the soldiers, but instead becomes one of them. Mahila and Tool team up and together they figure out a way to get to Mouse. They work their way into the drowned cities where Mouse has gone with the soldiers. There are five factions all warring in the city, and Tool with Mahila have to worm their way through all of them for the chance to rescue Mouse.

Now Tool is a genetic beast who was created and trained for war. He is comprised of four different animals I believe; human, hyena, wolf, and something else. I know they told us a few times, but he's basically huge, creepy, and can talk. He's much more intelligent than anyone else in the book. So kudos to him. He does have animalistic moments where's he like FIGHT, KILL IT, I AM THE PREDATOR, EVERYTHING IS MY PREY, but forces that urge aside when he knows he needs to be smart.

The ending scene probably would have meant a lot more to me if I had read the first book, but it didn't. Tool essentially wiped out an entire faction's headquarters/leadership area, Mouse died, and Mahila with the rag tag soldiers she managed to pick up figure a way to get out of the drowned cities and hopefully to safety. THAT'S WHERE THE BOOK LEAVES OFF.

Overall, this book wasn't exactly to my taste as it didn't seem to accomplish anything other than showing how awful war is. There was no peace, resolution, anything (there might be a third book coming and I just don't know it). The writing was good, but the content wasn't to my liking.

I do not think you absolutely HAVE to read the first book to understand the second book, but it probably helps.

Happy reading!


  1. Ship Breaker has a completely different set of characters. ;) This is a sequel only in the sense that it's set after the first book but in the same world. Ship Breaker, however, is also AWESOME and you definitely need to read it. - Brittany

    1. Is Ship Breaker as ruthlessly gory with it's details as The Drowned Cities was? I don't know if I could stomach another book of it's nature at the moment.