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The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Drowned Cities

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ship Breaker (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7806111,816 (3.82)56
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    grizzly.anderson: Both books extrapolate on current social and political trends to produce a dystopian future.

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» See also 56 mentions

English (60)  French (1)  All (61)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Brutal, bleak and confronting in places. Wonderful and compelling world with some surprisingly likeable characters. ( )
  kale.dyer | Aug 14, 2017 |
Bacigalupi is among my favorite authors. His novels are always intriguing, hard to put down, and echo problems and trends in the world of today. "The Drowned Cities" (2012) does not disappoint. It is set in a future southeastern U.S. ravaged by climate change and torn apart by warlords. The story increased my interest in the problem of child soldiers in war-torn countries, a theme that is not in Bacigalupi's other works. (In contrast, climate change is a common thread in almost all of his novels.) "The Drowned Cities" also raises questions of what is the moral course of action in difficult circumstances.

In my view, "The Drowned Cities" has a few flaws. In this book (and "The Water Knife," and I believe others), Bacigalupi holds up China as an example of a place where people planned carefully for the impacts of climate change, and as a result, China has become the main world power and bastion of civilization. While it is useful from a story perspective to have somewhere that planned well and serves as a contrast to the U.S. (and the contrast is sharpened if that place is a present-day geopolitical rival), China does not in actuality plan with particularly great foresight and rationality. (An example might be China's continued construction of coal plants far in excess of the capacity they need (and in spite of the resulting contribution to climate change) due to local economic incentives for infrastructure investment and relationships between local government officials and the coal industry.) China, after all, is run by humans, and all humans share many of the same motivations. For future books, Bacigalupi might consider varying the country or region that planned well for climate change (e.g. make it Canada in one book, Australia in the next, South Africa in the next, etc.), so it less seems to be a statement about how awesome China is and more the (presumably intended) statement that people who plan rationally with open eyes are the ones who do well.

I will also note that the character named "Tool," a bioengineered hybrid of human and several animals' DNA, is a difficult type of character to include in a book. Tool is, by design, better than humans in every way: he's smarter than most humans, ferociously strong, heals quickly, has a powerful immune system, has superior senses, etc. He also seems psychologically resilient, at least, in that he's able to kill a seemingly endless number of humans without the slightest bit of remorse or self-doubt. He feels like a character from a dungeon-crawl RPG computer game. Although such characters can be popular (in a wish-fulfillment sort of way), they seldom make for good fiction. Bacigalupi struggles with this somewhat in "The Drowned Cities," where he needs to constantly find ways to make Tool less overpowering, so that the other characters can be relevant. Tool spends much of the book deathly injured, tranquilized, chained, or otherwise incapacitated. It turns out that Bacigalupi's next book, "Tool of War," will center on this character, so perhaps we will see if Bacigalupi can develop him in such a way to make him more interesting and a better fit for written fiction.

Despite these flaws, I liked "The Drowned Cities" and do not hesitate to recommend it, particularly to those interested in child soldiers or far future climate change-driven dystopias. ( )
  jrissman | Jul 30, 2017 |
I was so caught up in this book. Man. It's a dark read - even brutal at times - but very captivating. Even though it's a futuristic / dystopian tale, its setting is startlingly similar to modern day permanent war zones likes parts of Africa. Child soldiers. The nature and meaning of violence. The nature of good and evil. This one intelligently tackles the big themes. Lots to chew on here. But the best part is that it's all wrapped up in a great, fast-paced story.
  wintersdoor | Jul 2, 2017 |
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi is connected to The Ship Breakers in that these are both YA stories and are set in the same location, but otherwise the stories are separate. This is the story of Mahlia, a young girl that has become a cast-off, a war orphan. Her father abandoned both her mother and herself. They were taken by soldiers and her mother was killed while Mahlia had one arm cut off. She was rescued by a young boy called Mouse and they lived outside the Drowned Cities with a village doctor. When a ferocious mutant called a half man escapes from the Drowned Cities, Mahlia decides to nurse him back to health, a decision that was to cost her greatly.

Tool, is called a half-man, but he is a mixture of many animals and has been trained to fight and kill. A superior fighting machine is exactly what Mahlia needs when she decides to go to the Drowned Cities and rescue Mouse who has been taken and inducted into the army.

I enjoyed this story, Palolo Bacigalupi’s vision of a future of high water levels and a lawless existence with various warlords vying for power is one that he has built upon in each of his books. There was lots of action, a lot of violence and blood-letting but this is a story of loyalty, survival and adventure. And although The Drowned Cities is definitely on the dark side, I did like that the ending of the book left the reader with a feeling of hope. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jun 24, 2017 |
The Drowned Cities is loosely linked to the earlier 'Ship Breaker', by the common character, the genetically engineered warrior 'Tool'. It is set in the same brutal, post warming United States, where the surviving populace are reduced to scavenging in the ruins of their former greatness, resisting the benevolent assistance of the Chinese, who have left them to their own devices in disgust.
( )
  orkydd | Feb 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
The Drowned Cities is an adventure story, a thriller and a sharply drawn fable about the state of the world today. It succeeds handily on all three fronts
added by 4leschats | editBook Page, Heather Seggel (May 1, 2012)
Beautifully written, filled with high-octane action, and featuring badly damaged but fascinating and endearing characters, this fine novel tops its predecessor and can only increase the author's already strong reputation.
added by 4leschats | editPublishers Weekly (pay site) (Mar 12, 2012)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paolo Bacigalupiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foster, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swanson, JoshuaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.… (more)

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