The Drowned Cities

Bacigalupi, Paolo

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Drowned Cities
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.

Published: New York : Little, Brown, 2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0316056243
Branch Call Number: YA BAC
Characteristics: 437 p. ;,22 cm.


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Apr 24, 2014
  • CRRL_CraigGraziano rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Mahlia and Mouse are War Maggots, children orphaned by endless bloodshed across future America. The seas have risen and many of our large East-Coast cities have struggled to keep functioning. That struggle leads to violence, the kind of which leaves only the young to deal with the consequences. These child soldiers have inherited and will fight to control The Drowned Cities.

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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??

Sep 27, 2013
  • mvkramer rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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
  • danomcd rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

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
  • KingSalomon rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

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

Jan 13, 2013
  • hanstra rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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
  • Superman_Wu rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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.

Jun 29, 2012

So let's start off with the statement that this is not a sequel to Ship Breaker - but it is set in the same "world" and same time period, but we've got a new cast of characters. It's considered a companion novel. This was a strange book for me to read: I found myself feeling as if it was dragging at the beginning, but also noticed I was eating up the pages. I wasn't overly attached to the characters, the way I was in Ship Breaker, until the last quarter of the book, when Mahlia and Tool's relationship really develops and blossoms. Bacigalupi also uses this novel as a statement politically - constantly reminding us that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. War is ever pervasive in this novel, and how it shakes a world, no matter how far removed you think you are. The commentary the novel makes on the state of the world is interesting, as is the development of Tool and Mahlia. However, Ship Breaker still takes number one for me.

Jun 26, 2012
  • Yahong_Chi rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.


*clears throat* Now that I've got that out of my system, we can proceed normally. Or as normally as such a good book will allow.

The Drowned Cities throws us back into Paolo Bacigalupi's run-down world, and with Bacigalupi taking his time to place vivid sensory details like gems throughout his storytelling... what a rich world it is. The jungle terrors, the village and homes, the warfare within the cityscape are real and luscious setdrops to the action, which somehow doesn't get slowed down by the description.

The multiple points of view keep the pacing on a roll where the potential for a slow middle exists; the third-person narratives work seamlessly despite the multitude of them. Wise choices are made in regards to which characters we inhabit, and we're given insight to Mahlia's determination and her backstory, Ocho's remaining humanity and Tool's all-around intelligent and brutal awesomeness.

An excellent build-up leads us to a confrontation that, for once, doesn't last a single chapter, like so many YA climaxes tend to. Lingering at the doom of our protags helps make the villain more truly evil; it also provides more time for satisfyingly strong comebacks. And all the while, the themes of war -- why do we fight? Whom do we fight against, truly? -- and belonging -- does Tool belong to a master if he was made that way? Once Mouse is in the army, who does he belong to then? -- resonate in almost menacing, lurking undertones, provoking thought and demanding question in a way to make you ponder.

It's a smart book, The Drowned Cities is. Entirely satisfying and steadily thrilling -- no better combination have I read yet.

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Nov 20, 2012
  • KingSalomon rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

KingSalomon 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
  • KingSalomon rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Violence: killing of the innocent

Apr 11, 2013
  • KingSalomon rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: some swearing


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Sep 27, 2013
  • mvkramer rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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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