A frighteningly believable future,
This review is from: The Drowned Cities: Number 2 in series (Ship Breaker) (Paperback)
This is a frighteningly believable future skilfully created by Paolo Bacigalupi.
In this future, sea levels and temperatures have risen dramatically and much of the action centres around a ruined Washington DC (never named as such, but this gradually becomes evident) where roads have been replaced by waterways, dangerous wild beasts prowl, and the child soldiers of various militias wreak atrocities on all and sundry in their warlords' battle for power. These child soldiers are similar to those of Charles Taylor and the other Liberian warlords or of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, and it is all too easy in the context of this account to accept the reality of a future where these atrocities are taking place in mainland USA rather than distant Africa. In a striking parallel to the USA involvement in Viet Nam and other more recent debacles, the Chinese Government had for several years tried to create order through an occupying army, offering economic assistance, before being forced into dramatic precipitous retreat by the various militias and anyone linked to this Chinese colonial occupation is now despised.
In this book we follow the main characters in their search for meaning and survival through this terrible war zone:
Mahlia, the "cast off" girl, daughter of a Chinese soldier.
Mouse, the orphaned farm boy,
Tool, the "augment", part man, dog, hyena, tiger, genetically modified for combat, who appeared previously in "Shipbreaker".
Ocho, the child sergeant.
I do not usually choose to read books such as this where the future reality is so unrelentingly grim. About a year ago I read "The Windup Girl" and "Shipbreaker", and, though I respected the writing, had decided against reading further. However, I eventually succumbed to curiosity and had to read this book. I found it very readable, and got through most of it in two sittings. Although all the action takes place in a world of casual cruelty, I did not feel that this was embroidered sadistically, rather it was simply part of the narrative. I preferred this book to the previous two, perhaps because I was already familiar with this future reality from the earlier ones. I am glad I read this book. Paolo Bacigalupi certainly knows how to write.