Despite a not-fully-favorable review here of Paolo Bacigalupi’s ShipBreakers, I just picked up the follow-up, Drowned Cities. And again, despite a high level of suspense maintained by a high level of violence, I again find myself praising his book. For one, Bacigalupi did not choose one of the main characters, but rather a secondary one, to provide the link for the sequel. And the new characters wrestle with important questions, ones readers will benefit from wrestling now rather than waiting for the future. Their struggles brought me back to a stunning memoir of child soldiers by Ishmael Beah. Warlords (such as Beah’s Sierra Leone or Satrapi’s Persepolis) with different religious/patriotic realities but equivalent methodologies–All War, All the Time, With All Comers–fight right here in the former U.S. of A. The author shifts the chaos from a distant place to a not-so-distant time, challenging readers to take a clear look around them.
The genetically-engineered killing-machine Tool, introduced in ShipBreakers, here shows a heart-wrenching soul within his cynical freedom.