Friday, September 14, 2012

Books I've Read This Week

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi is apparently a young adult novel. Wow, I guess kids are a lot more mature than I was oh, let's say a few decades ago. Let me just get this out of the way up front. I think this is a fantastic novel but you probably don't want to give it to your 12 year old as they may not be mature enough for it.

The crux of the novel is that the United States has collapsed and is completely war torn with faux generals popping up all over the place. We pick up the story a few years after the Chinese have withdrawn from the USA after trying to save it from itself. The situation is evocative of the genocide in Darfur or the child soldiers of Sierra Leone.

In the book we follow a couple of young kids, Mahlia and Mouse, as they try to survive this dystopian future. Guerrilla forces are tracking Tool a "dog soldier"(human animal hybrid) and end up in the kids village immediately turning everyones lives upside down. In order to survive they are forced to befriend Tool and do things that many people may find objectionable just to stay alive.

This book is brutal, honest and amazing. I think that this book is well worth the read. For follow up reading about some real life events that may have had some influence on Bacigalupi try reading Romeo Dallarie's Shake Hands With the Devil and Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone
Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson is a pretty good robot uprising book. If you like the Terminator movies or iRobot you will find this book to be an enjoyable read. While reading this book it reminded me of World War Z in the style in which is was presented.

I wouldn't run out and buy this book but it is good library material and enjoyable in a popcorn movie kind of way.


Raymond Camden said...

Interesting. Adding this to my reading list. And yes - I'm with you on how - surprisingly - tough some of these YA books are. I let my eldest read the Hunger Games, but it was on the edge.

Simon MacDonald said...


Yeah, I've read The Windup Girl by Bacigalupi which I really loved and it won the Nebula award the year it was released. That led me to his YA novel Ship Breakers which is nowhere near as intense as The Drowned Cities so I was a bit shocked by the content of this novel. That's not to say that I didn't love it.

I've also read the Hunger Games and that is another novel that is probably better for high schoolers than it is for 12 year olds.