Book: The Drowned Cities
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Source: Local Library
In the future, America has been knocked from leader of the free world to a war-torn wasteland, torn to shreds by guerrilla civil war and abandoned even by the Chinese peacekeepers. In this world, four different people struggle to survive.
Mahlia and Mouse have already lived through the worst and are keeping their heads down in a backwoods village. Tool is a genetically modified man-beast, created to serve warlords and wage war. He’s decided to strike out on his own, serving no master. Ocho is a guerrilla soldier, sergeant of the squadron that hunts Tool and invades the village.
When Mahlia takes the risky step of saving Tool’s life and helping hide him from the soldiers, she sets off a chain of events that will take all four from the relative safety of the backwoods into the Drowned Cities and the heart of the never-ending war. None of them expect that they’re going to live to a ripe old age. They’ll settle for living to see tomorrow.
I told a colleague that if I’d known that this was about child soldiers and guerrilla warfare, I probably wouldn’t have read it. (Upon hearing that description, of course, he was all over it.) If I’d skipped it, I would have missed one hell of a book.
At every turn, the characters (minor and major) must make the decision about whether to see to their own safety or honor their connection to another person. Intriguingly, Bacigalupi doesn’t always prioritize one over the other. Sometimes you have to save your own skin. Sometimes, you have to save your soul instead.
A harrowing, powerful, and complex story about the things we do to save ourselves and others.