The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

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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.
This thrilling companion to Paolo Bacigalupi's highly acclaimed Ship Breaker is a haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

About Paolo Bacigalupi

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Paolo Bacigalupi is the author of the highly acclaimedThe Drowned Cities, as well as his debut young adult novel, Ship Breaker, which was a Michael L. Printz Award winner, a National Book Award Finalist, and a Locus Award winner. His debut adult novel, The Windup Girl, was named by Time Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009 and won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. His short-story collection, Pump Six and Other Stories, was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and was also named one of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. He lives with his wife and son in western Colorado.
Published May 1, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 450 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Young Adult, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Drowned Cities

Kirkus Reviews

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Mahlia and Tool (whom readers may recognize from Ship Breaker) venture deeper and deeper into the Drowned Cities, each fueled by unwavering loyalty.

Feb 29 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

Publishers Weekly

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Set in the same horrific world as Bacigalupi’s Printz-winning Ship Breaker, this superb, violent tale concerns “war maggots” Mahlia and Mouse, two kids trying to survive in an impoverished village not far from the tropical Drowned Cites that were once Washington, D.C.

Mar 12 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities


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If there's one thing that teenagers of all stripes spend their energy on, it's friendship. These outstanding new novels for young adults explore friendship wherever it blossoms, whether in the extremes of a dystopian future or the more mundane emotional extremes of high school.

Jun 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities


Continuing in the vein of dystopian science fiction fueled by environmental disaster that has brought him such acclaim, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi runs in top form with his latest release, The Drowned Cities.

Jun 04 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

AV Club

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The book follows perhaps one too many point-of-view characters—a soldier bent on stopping Mahlia is less interesting than Mouse, Tool, or Mahlia—but by the time Mahlia is sacrificing everything she can think of to rescue someone and right the wrongs she feels she’s committed, the book has become ...

Jun 04 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

The Bookbag

Summary: A master-class in how to write a young adult book that neither preaches, nor patronises, while still managing to carry a powerful message about the dangers of environmental apathy and the circle of violence.

May 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Mouse's conversion to brainwashed teen soldier and Mahlia's trip downriver with Tool both seem curiously foreshortened, especially given the lengthy prior scenes (sometimes tedious) of Mahlia convincing Tool to help her.

May 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

Strange Horizons

Paolo Bacigalupi first made a name for himself with his short fiction, and achieved more widespread acclaim with his first novel, The Windup Girl (2009).

Jun 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

WAPL Teens

When Sergeant Ocho and his team of boy soldiers show up in Mahlia's village on their search for Tool, what they don't know is that she and Mouse have discovered Tool, half-dead from his epic battle with the alligator, in the jungle - and Mouse is being held prisoner under threat of death, unless...

May 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

TCPalm / AP

Bacigalupi's latest, "The Drowned Cities," is his second straight young adult release, but that shouldn't deter the writer's older fans from picking up the book (even if you have to do it on the sly).

Jun 10 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

Sci-Fi Bulletin

A companion volume to Ship Breaker – as in, set in the same place, but not a direct sequel – The Drowned Cities is a harsh book that, like its predecessor, examines questions of loyalty and friendship in an environment where selfishness often needs to be the default setting simply to survive.

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The Verge

As you might expect, it doesn't exactly work, but the wary alliance between Mahlia and Tool provides a link between Mahlia's very personal experience and the larger political concerns of her world.

Apr 27 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

The Evening Sun

But the powerful thing about Bacigalupi's work - for them or anyone else willing to spend the time - is it feels so real.

May 15 2012 | Read Full Review of The Drowned Cities

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