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on 5 July 2012
Sometimes a book is just all that much better for being so disgustingly horrible. For not glossing over the gruesome details, for keeping the reader hooked in wide-eyed horror. This is that kind of book. The author doesn't waste his time on niceties, this story's about the harsh realities of survival and the unfortunate lengths that people have to go to in order to just stay alive. This book is nasty and gritty, and yet none of the violence and gore felt gratuitous, and above all else Paolo Bacigalupi is actually an incredible writer.

For those of you - like me - who felt that Ship Breaker was a little bit too much of a "boy book", despite being impressed by the writing and the imagery, I want to let you know that you should have no such concerns about The Drowned Cities. Not only is this a much better book than its predecessor, it has a broader reach. This, in my opinion, is about so much more than high-action scenes to please teen male readers, there are strong messages about war and loyalty and survival.

The story mainly focuses on three individuals, Mahlia, her companion Mouse, and a genetically engineered soldier which combines parts of various animals and human DNA to make the ultimate killing machine (called Tool). War plays a big part in this book, it is what threatens the safety of the characters, what forces them on, what challenges them to make a number of big decisions. Mahlia, with only a stump at the end of her right arm, is already a victim of this war. A war that is a lot more familiar to humanity than most of us would like to think.

To digress slightly, tomorrow I will be taking an exam in international relations and one of the key topics is what we call "new wars". These are a certain type of wars that have been on the rise for the last couple of decades, the kind that sees new technology creating cheap and light weaponry that can be handled by children. Some of these children are five years old when they are recruited and forced to kill or be killed. The relevance? Mahlia and Mouse are children also caught up in a war, a war where the "soldier boys" are nothing but children with attitudes and big guns. Children who've been brainwashed into seeking cruelty and violence - because their only other option was to become a victim. The Drowned Cities may seem to be a futuristic/dystopian novel, but the war that the characters are facing is nothing that hasn't already happened in our world, nothing that isn't happening right now.

This is a very sad, honest tale of war, with particular emphasis on the effect it has on children. There are many questions being asked here that I think Paolo Bacigalupi wants us to seriously consider. It is so easy to forget that children are being forced into this kind of life through fear, not in a different world or dimension, not in a possible future, but right now across the globe. This is a much deeper and thought-provoking book than I imagined and I know I'll be thinking about it for quite some time.
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on 1 June 2012
I have to agree with many of the things that the previous reviewer has written. I have read three previous books by Paolo Bacigalupi, Pump Six, The Wind Up Girl and Shipbreaker. Each book is excellent and I expected the same from The Drowned Cities. Unfortunatly, although it is a good read it is not on the same level as Shipbreaker, which is set in the same timeline/world. The book is just to long, and I feel that the story could have been told in half the length. I didnt really feel anything for the characters and by the end of the book I didnt care what was happening to them. I have given it 3 stars as I think the writing is pretty good, but it lacks a real story. Hopefully with his next book Paolo Bacigalupi can revert to his previous form.
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on 13 May 2014
I was surprised when this book didn't follow on with the same characters as the last. Set in the same world and time, this book follows a war maggot girl called Mahlia, a young boy called Mouse and the awesome Tool (the only crossover character). Although people have largely reviewed this as not as good as Shipbreaker, I actually enjoyed it more... Gritty and intense.

Bring on book 3!
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on 28 February 2018
Love this series....i really.like the way the authour develops the Augment character and those he interacts with...really interesting take on a dystopian future...outside the normal doom and gloom !!!...tech married with fantasy with a good balance between each if those..i hope he writes more.
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on 20 May 2013
I like PBs books and find his writing style engaging and well written. I've read his other books and enjoyed them immensely. This book was also a good read and I finished it in a 2-3 days of late night reading. As usual it is well written and enjoyable. When I finished the book I had the impression that it was a simpler storyline than the other books and, missing something. The ideas from some of the other books are touched upon but only in passing, so you really only get a glance at the world in which the book is placed.

Having said that I'd still recommend the book.
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on 19 March 2018
Solid and inventive dystopian SF from the master Bacigalupi
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on 19 June 2016
The second part of the series is even more savage than the first in regard to the future of the USA. Chinese peacekeepers? Mr B is having a good pull on the leg there, but in other ways, this is a good vision of a flooded, hurricane wrecked world where oil is replaced by sail.
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on 7 July 2015
A great read for the second in the ship breaker series. Well written, great characters, and a page turner. Recommended.
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on 7 October 2014
Bacigalupi triumphs again
Perhaps one the best novels about the pointlessness of war and heroism beyond logic.
Manila and dog-face Tool make stunning characters and unlikely companions
Absolutely gripping throughout
I can't wait to read his next

Sam Hawksmoor
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on 28 May 2015
all as advertised thank you
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