Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Genre: Science Fiction | Young Adult
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
If you were going to read this expecting to see Nailer and crew again for some more wholesome adventures, you'd be sorely disappointed. The only recurring character between the books is the Half-Man, Tool. Oh in case you were wondering, Half Men are 8 feet tall monsters with a dog's head, tiger's claws and the combined power of all the greatest predators in one body and superior to everything that's ever naturally walked the Earth. They're bio-engineered to become perfect warriors. A single fully-armed half-man would be enough to take down an entire company of human soldiers.
If you've already read the first book then you'll know a bit about the back history of the series. But I'll rehash it for the readers that haven't. The series is set in the future when all fossil fuels have run out and the oceans have risen as a result of polar ice caps melting. The rising water caused massive damage as the coastlines flooded and entire cities were submerged. Millions died in the aftermath save for the few cities governed by the Big Corporations; Global Patel, Lawson & Carlsons, GE...and the Chinese companies. That's right, China is the superpower of the future. They invested in technology and renewable energy. They kept up the R&D up to a point where they predicted the global catastrophe and preempted it by building seawalls to keep out the rising ocean. When the US went to hell and descended into anarchy and civil war, the Chinese came out relatively unscathed and with their advanced levels of technology, they were able to survive and flourish in the new world. Hell, this is starting to sound like OUR future in the real world...assuming the global warming threat is real.
The second book deals more with life in the Drowned Cities. The various military factions are constantly vying with each other for control over the Washington D.C. Drowned City. The militias use child soldiers as the bulk of their military forces. Little kids are forcibly recruited and made to kill other human beings, or failing to do so they're mutilated and left to die with their limbs chopped off. You know what this reminded me of? The movie Blood Diamond. It's the same thing except this time instead of African kids, you have a bunch of white kids and some Asians running around playing killing, raping and enslaving people. It's a fucked up world. The Chinese tried to stop all the violence by sending an army over to prevent all out war, but after 15 years they said, "Fuck it. This ain't working out. Let's let these savages kill each other if they want. I'm going back to Beijing" and left. Shit really hit the fan when everyone who "collaborated" with the Chinese were then massacred by the militias.
Mahlia is a victim who lost her right hand to the child soldiers of the Army of God (Deepwater Christian fanatics) for being a Castoff (half Chinese offspring of a peacekeeper). Despite having survived the ordeal she has to deal with discrimination from the natives who blame the castoffs for all their hardships. I like her feistiness. She's not willing to back down in the face of adversity. She goes up to her haters and dares them to say it to her face. She doesn't give up in the face of danger, if anything she's a danger-seeking human missile. When the United Patriotic Front forcibly recruits her best friend Mouse, she goes off to save him, somehow managing to convince Tool help her.
This book really deals with the consequences of humanity's indifference towards the harm they're doing to the environment. It's a prediction of what will happen in the near future. Every sign points toward our eventual destruction as a result of natural disasters and selfish politicians and the rich 1% of society who profit off of the poor regardless of what happens. The future civil war in what used to be the United States shows what happens when irresponsible politicians incite the masses into doing irrational things. No one remembers how it all started or why they're fighting. All they know is that they must wipe out the other sides because they are (insert propaganda reason here) and are therefore evil. It's all so pointless when they should be working together to rebuild their devastated country.
Finally she said, "No one ever wins, here. Bunch of dogs fighting over scraps of something... you don't even know what it is."
For the First time, Stern looked irritated. "I fight to cleanse this place, and revive a country. You have no right to question the sacrifices we make."
"I bet the guys who started this war said stuff like that, too. Bet they sounded real nice." She let her voice fall to a whisper. "You know something, though?" She let her voice fall lower. "You know what I realized?"
Glenn Stern leaned close, intent. Mahlia gathered her strength, and spat full in the man's face.
"I still want my fingers back!" she shouted.
This book is really dark with regard to all the killing and gore. It's not recommended if you're squeamish about graphic violence and have a really vivid imagination. Recommended for all lover of dystopia.
Overall: 7.5/10 (4 Stars)