Goodreads: 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.
Ok, so I'm cheating. I have totally been slacking and not really reading much and I'm too lazy to go get my kindle and do the mini reviews I meant to do. So I'm posting a review I posted to Goodreads during my hiatus last month.
I just finished this book (well ok, I had when I originally posted this) and I am still reeling in the aftermath of emotions a book can give you when it's that good. This book is so powerful. I really, really enjoyed Ship Breaker, but it didn't speak to me quite the way this one did. I think part of that comes from my absolute favourite character from Ship Breaker (Tool) becoming a main character in this story. I just connected with these characters, and particularly the ethics vs. survival situations our characters are put in time and time again. I'm not entirely sure of the timeline here, whether it was set directly after or ages after Ship Breaker, which is honestly my only complaint. So if you're looking for a connection to our lovely MC's from Ship Breaker, and Tool isn't your idea of the best character ever...you might be disappointed.
Just like in Ship Breaker, the world that this is set in is terrifying - and so easy to see in countries around the world right now. It's much bleaker than the dystopias we've come to see in YA fiction these days with Diveregent and Delirium, and to some extent The Hunger Games (and no, I'm not knocking these books. I loved most of them and they have completely different messages and purposes. I'm simply using them as a comparative device to this one). In part this is because of the lack of romantic interest here, which would have felt out of place, and to be honest was one of the things I didn't love about Ship Breaker. What I take from this setting, and what makes it so terrifying, and the messages so powerful...is that it's real. This isn't an imagination of a distant future - it's an imagination of a distant American future. Which is to say that it is a real, current event in many places, most notably Africa. It's clear that Bacigalupi did lots of research on child soldiers, and it is brutal and effective.
There are just so many great things about this series that I think are eye opening about our world today - race, politics, environment on a larger scale, and on a closer scale, loyalty, greed, and power. I think these books really explore how humans operate - both good and bad - and immerses you in a world that feels like a dangerously real possibility.
Why you should read this
1. You loved Ship Breaker
2. Dystopias are totally your thing
3. You love your dystopias without an ounce of romance
4. Diversity, world building, awesome characters, thought provoking
(In other words read this. Unless you need romance, which I'm sure many of you do, in which case this might not be your thing. But I think it might be a little life changing if you do read this).