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The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities - Paolo Bacigalupi Ship Breakers was a bit slow and took a while before I was anything more than just flipping pages; only much later, after the people in it had themselves wrapped around me, did I give a fig. Reading DROWNED CITIES was a little bit like that, only better. Things went fast, that for sure. There’s a girl and there’s and boy; and they each have each other; there’s a doctor who’s too good to be true… and when things start happening and someone’s about to die, I was split between her keep your head down philosophy and the Doctor’s more kind world view. The people in this one are so much more than you think they are; they’re certainly more than what they gave each other credit: Mahlia and Mouse, the Doctor and Tool. Then the fact that they had enemies of the conventional kind in those who didn’t trust her; and in those she couldn’t trust. One in particular called for more specific consideration; the same one who was considering her right back. Then there’s one who’s bat shit crazy, terrifying in his particular brand of it. Is it a boy book? Perhaps. There’s certainly more blood being shed, limbs being hacked off, and skin being branded than what I’ve come across of late. But what it really is, is conflict and what that does to people as well as what that has them do. Never is this more obvious than with Mouse. It’s him in it that added a touch of frightening. I was frightened for him. Initially, he’s second fiddle to Mahlia who’s personality just jumped out at you from the page. He’s the good kid, doing what’s right, smoothing things out for her; otherwise, it would all have been rough and fighting and confrontations with her. Mostly it’s Mahlia being loyal, sticking her head out though initially reluctant to do so then turning a leaf and being all in all because of a boy and not once in the romantic sense (And I love this book all them more for that last fact.) This was a lot about knowing who’s yours and doing what’s called for… for her at least, because time again there’s someone insisting (herself at first) that it’s best to keep your head down and not make waves. All that’s made even more interesting with Tool in the mix; he added that something extra for me. His thoughts, his words… were that extra something making this more than a girl trying to get by. With him in the picture, things felt more uncertain. From her point of view, hell, from anyone’s point of view, he’s a violent, volatile variable. But more, it being indefinable why he is where he is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. This read so much more interesting than the first; I got pulled into the story much more quickly. With it offering a lot of things to mull over with a girl who keeps her head down and a boy who doesn’t; food for thought on doing what’s right versus doing what’s safe. I loved it; I even admit to getting teary over one or two moments in it. 4.5/5