The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities

Book - 2012
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In a dark future America that has devolved into unending civil wars, orphans Mahlia and Mouse barely escape the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities, but their fragile safety is soon threatened and Mahlia will have to risk everything if she is to save Mouse, as he once saved her.
ISBN: 9780316056243
Characteristics: 437 pages ;,22 cm.


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SCL_Justin Jul 25, 2017

Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities is a sequel to Ship Breaker, but not a direct one. It features Tool, the half-man war machine from Ship Breaker, but also two new characters who live in what was once long ago the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Now Washington DC is underwater and being fought over by myriad warlords after an interlude a bit more than a decade previous when Chinese peacekeepers were on the ground trying to keep a lid on the fighting.

Mahlia is a cast-off war baby, disliked because of her obvious Chinese descent, and her friend Mouse is another scavenger. When one of the factions of soldierboys end up in their village chasing Tool, everything goes to hell.

The book does a great job in exploring how you negotiate a life in a violent world. Tool was built for war but Mahlia and Mouse weren’t. Mahlia’s mentor is a doctor who is kind and mollifies the people who irrationally hate her for her Chinese father. But when she gets the chance to ally with Tool and let violence into her house, she finds she likes the power it brings. Mouse gets turned into a child-soldier and learns to do terrible things to be a part of a terrible world. Very good stuff.

It feels less YA than Ship Breaker did, and more like a regular science fiction novel that happened to have young protagonists. If you’re into stories about war that don’t glorify it, this’d be a great choice.

Aug 16, 2015

This book really puts the dys in dystopia. Bacigalupi continues to write well, but going into gory details about child soldiers, mutilation, and sadism was too graphic for me. In some parts of the world today, this is close to reality. I did like Ship Breaker, however.

CRRL_CraigG Jul 17, 2015

Bacigalupi has a grim, realistic handle on what the future may hold: depleted resources, rising seas, and different factions grasping for hope, answers, and weapons.

layna14 Feb 10, 2014

I'm looking for more good dystopian books- I've already read Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, The Selection, Matched, The Maze Runner, Delirium, and I think a couple more... is this series any good??

mvkramer Sep 27, 2013

What I love most about this book is how real it feels. A lot of dystopias suffer from fundamentally unrealistic premises, but The Drowned Cities, like Ship Breaker, really feels like it could happen. I loved Mahlia as a protagonist. She is at once a very strong and a very flawed character, and both her flaws and her strengths are well-founded in her background and circumstances. The one odd element in this story was Tool the half-man. His perspective was interesting, as an inhuman creature literally built for war, but I thought he was too much of a "noble savage." He was extremely articulate and philosophical for a dog/man/tiger/hyena who was made to rip people's arms off. Overall, though, this book is very exciting and has a great blend of action and heart.

Sep 04, 2013

Disappointing - I really enjoyed the first book and though that while this wasn't a true sequel it might inter-twin with the first book. Instead I found myself continually asking "why am I reading this" from the other reviews I thought the book would eventually pick-up but by the end I basically couldn't careless what happened to Mahlia or Mouse. The only character of interest was the half-man from an interest level like you have with the "hulk" - how much damage can this character really do and take.

Jul 05, 2013

This is a fantastic dystopia as it incorporates contemporary issues, like feuding warlords and child soldiers, into a futuristic setting. This is not a happy book, and it can be somewhat disturbing in places, but it is very compelling. The characters are believable because they are flawed and vulnerable, sometimes caring, sometimes selfish. This makes a great discussion piece on the costs of war, and the fine line between collaboration and survival in wartime.

Apr 11, 2013

nothing great about this book. some entertaining action but disturbing massacers

Jan 13, 2013

This book totally blew me away! I had read Shipbreakers, and I thought it was alright, so I felt obligated to read the next novel. And WOW! Absolutely amazing! Completely different perspective in this book, different issues, and in my opinion, much more powerful. Shipbreakers functioned as a foundation story for THIS masterpiece. War, loyalty, violence, poverty, humanity (or lack of...) - this book has so much going for it, and it totally pulled through right to the end.

Aug 07, 2012

Just as awesome as Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker. I hope Bacigalupi make's another novel bridging both the stories of the Drowned Cities and the Ship Breaker - otherwise I found both endings unfortunate cliff-hangers to ponder.

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Age Suitability

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Nov 20, 2012

JihadiConservative thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 17, 2012

basch thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Apr 11, 2013

Violence: killing of the innocent

Apr 11, 2013

Coarse Language: some swearing


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mvkramer Sep 27, 2013

When the Chinese forces pulled out of the Drowned Cities, Mahlia lost her mother and her right hand to the squabbling warlords. Now she lives in a village with Mouse, her best friend, who saved her life, and Mafouz, the doctor who took her in and taught her medicine. There, they are safe, if not entirely accepted. One day, Mouse and Mahlia find an injured half-man in the jungle, a half-man, who, just by exisiting, will bring down a vengeful army on the village. Does Mahlia have what it takes to return to the Drowned Cities and save the boy who saved her?


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