Release Date: 04/30/13
Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.
However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.
Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre.
My thoughts on the book:
The Ward got off to a rough start, and while I didn't hate it, I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. At first Ren is not very likable, the pacing is a little off, and the plot seems dull. However, as the book progresses, everything gets better. Frankel hits her stride at around the 25% mark and the ending is unbelievably good. Dystopian fans are going to eat this book up!
Ren comes across as super selfish and not very personable in the first few chapters, but as the book progresses, her character grows a lot. I was actually shocked (and pleasantly surprised) at the character growth she exhibits. The more I learned about her, the more I understood why she was so hard. However, I would have liked to have known more about Ren's past. I don't feel like Frankel tells us nearly enough about our main character. In fact, Frankel could have fleshed out all of the characters a bit more. I don't feel like we learned nearly enough about Derek or the Tenati either. I understand and respect her avoiding forcing false culture upon indigenous people, but I would have liked something to go on - perhaps a few more explanations about the 900 whys I had floating around in my head. In the same vein, Callum's motives are still a bit of a mystery to me. I would have liked a lot more information about him and his family, too. The bad characters are bad, but yet again, we don't know why. I feel like a bit more explanation would have been good. However, I still, in spite of the lack of explanations, grew attached to Ren and can't wait to see what happens next.
In addition to the lack of explanations about characters, the world-building lacks a bit. I don't feel that I ever fully understood the world in which Ren lives. NYC is flooded. I get that, but what caused the Wash Out? How do the buildings not flood? What is the government actually doing? Why are they being so weird? How is the country set up now that NYC is its own state? What other states are out there? How do the cars actually operate (I never understood and could never fully picture any of the scenes with the cars)? I have about a million more questions that could stand to be answered. I'm not sure if Frankel didn't think these things through or if the characters and world-building just take a back seat to the plot.
Speaking of the plot, it's intense and action-packed. As I said, after the 25% mark, I couldn't put this book down. It's one thing after another right up until the very end. I had no idea where Frankel was taking me during this adventure. The plot is intricate and complicated, yet easy to follow. While the rest of the book fell short in some aspects, the story line truly shines. That alone caused me to push the book up to a B from a C-. I'm not usually a huge plot person (I mean obviously there has to be one, and it should be interesting... however I'm normally more concerned with characters), but the plot of this novel sold me on the entire book. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, and I didn't feel like any questions were really answered, but it still seems like a natural place to end. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
Overall, I'd recommend The Ward to any fan of Dystopian literature. If you're looking for something a bit different, this is it. Frankel has created an interesting world (from what I could tell) with a complex and thrilling plot. You won't want to miss this book.
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