Monday, April 8, 2013

The Ward by Jordana Frankel

The Ward by Jordana Frankel
eARC received from HarperTeen via Edelweiss
Release Date:  4-30-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Thrilling, Thunderous, and Thoroughly Enjoyable
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.

I have been intrigued by the idea of The Ward since I first saw the cover.  Just the idea of our biggest city being overcome by the sea is apocalyptically creepy (and could happen, you never know).  Sadly, what I loved most about the cover (the huge falls on the edge of Manhattan) wasn’t in the story, so I’m thinking it doesn’t really exist in Jordana’s world.  I would have loved it if it did because it would just add one more edge of danger to the ocean city.

So, moving on from the cover, let me say that this book does not disappoint.  I was captured from the start as we get to see Ren drag racing over the tops of buildings.  TOPS OF BUILDINGS!  I loved the descriptions of how the cars would glide through the air from rooftop to rooftop, how they could race down the sides of buildings, or how they could even drive over water, skipping like rocks on the surface of a lake.  It was such a dangerous and captivating idea, and I was immediately sucked into this “above-ground underground” world in which Ren lives. 

The world was by far my favorite part of this book.  Jordana describes it so seamlessly, how many of the buildings are underwater, but many still jut out from the ocean.  Suspension bridges between buildings are used to get around, and vehicles can weave through air and water.  It’s like a futuristic run-down Venice, except instead of people falling in love, you have people just trying to survive.  I got lost in the description of the underground city (Ren drove through it in a submarine like car), and even with all the action and mystery and death, I just couldn’t stop smiling because of how well the scene lifted from the pages.

Okay…so now that I’ve talking glowingly about the setting and Jordana’s amazing imagery in describing it, let’s talk about the main characters.  I really liked Ren—she’s a no bull crap kind of girl, lost in her own broken heart.  But, she doesn’t let that side track her, instead she lets it compel her into living on the edge, because that is where the money is.  She needs the money because her best friend, Aven, has the Blight (a cancerous disease that is always fatal), and medication is extremely expensive.  Ren is tough, and the friendship between Aven and her is one of the strongest I have seen in ya literature.  Even though they didn’t spend much time together in the book, I could just feel the emotion from each of them bleeding from the page.  I found myself stopping multiple times and just thinking about how well Jordana was able to describe their bond.

The rest of the characters are minor characters, and the one thing that bugged me about this book was that I felt like we didn’t see enough of these minor characters.  I wanted to see more Callum and Derek and especially Terrence.  Terence is the good friend who was in the same orphanage as Ren before he got adopted by a rich guy.  He is fun and loyal, and I really enjoyed the scenes where he was there.   Callum is the scientist that shows up (you might consider this a minor spoiler, but I don’t because you find out pretty soon), and I really enjoyed his persistence and dedication.  He was strong in the face of insurmountable odds, and I really loved his quirky, nerdy side, too. 

And then there’s Derek…the love interest.  I’m not sure how I feel about him, though.  You can tell that he likes Ren, but he keeps pushing her away and it drives me bonkers!  He’s definitely hiding something, not that I mind that because mysterious guys are my forte.  He’s up and down throughout the book, but he definitely adds to the suspense.

Overall, the action is great—twists and turns abound, and although some are predictable, I still had fun finding them out.  I loved watching Ren as she is trying to find freshwater, and as she is trying to decide if the government and her friends can be trusted.  I loved the grey areas when it came to who Ren can trust—I had a hard time figuring out who and how many people were going to betray her!  The setting was fantastic—a harsh ocean wonderland where love and trust and loyalty are scarce, and where alliances are just as dangerous as the dark waters.

This is a must read for dystopian fans!  I was thinking it was a stand alone, but after the ending (a cliffhanger, but not a kill you cliffhanger), I’m thinking there has to be a sequel in the works.