Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on April 30, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Overall, I thought The Ward was a really interesting and intriguing story. In some ways, it surprised me. The Ward has more of a fantasy spin than I originally anticipated. I think I expected a lot more realistic science; and while The Ward does have science in it, it’s more rooted in fantasy (in my opinion). They do try to pass of the fantastical elements as science, but I didn’t quite buy it. But whatever. It was still a good read!
This story is very much focused on Ren trying to save her sister (who isn’t actually her sister, but pretty much is in every way except for blood). Ren’s sister—Aven—is a victim of the terminal virus that’s spreading throughout Manhattan. Ren is desperate to find a cure or some kind of miracle that can save Aven. I think the bond between Ren and Aven was super sweet. I almost wish we got to experience more of it. There is no shortage of Ren showing her dedication to her sister, but since her sister is sick and basically on her death bed, we don’t see them interact that much.
The mobile racing aspect of The Ward was really interesting! I haven’t read anything quite like it in any other book! It was certainly a cool and original take on futuristic sports! Some of the technical stuff kind of went over my head, but it was still fun to read about! I think the mobile racing complimented the rest of the book quite well, with the broken down Manhattan, the quarantined city, etc. It also definitely does make the book ‘cinematic’. I think this would by far be the coolest part of the book to see on the big screen!
Some people will definitely be refreshed by the lack of romance in The Ward. It isn’t completely non-existent, but it almost is. There is an inkling of a romance with one character—Derek—but it is so far from the focal point of the story. This romance is like.. a subplot of a subplot. It is kind of an interesting, complicated relationship for sure! I really loved watching Ren gawk over Derek because that’s the one time where she really loses her composure. Her inner dialogue during those scenes was pretty funny! I’m inclined to think that the second book might have more romance in it, and I’m really curious to see how it progresses!
I think the place where The Ward could use some work is in the world building. I think I got a pretty good picture of the world Ren lives in, but I never got a clear picture of how that world came to exist. I was most interested in the Wash Out (the event that cause Manhattan to become water-logged) and the virus currently making its way through Manhattan.. but we never get much information about any of those. We only get one tiny tid-bit describing the Wash Out, and it’s pretty vague:
March’s meteor collided with the Antarctic’s Pine Island Glacier, and high-temperature gases were released, causing a global rise in sea level
That’s the only explanation of the Wash Out we get. I think I was expecting more of the book to be focused on what the heck happened to Manhattan, but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty small piece of the story. And as for the virus, that’s also really vague. We never really find out where exactly it came from. We just know that it’s there and that there’s no cure. I personally really eat up the background information in sci-fi dystopians, and unfortunately The Ward didn’t have much of it. Also, we never really find out why Ren is immune to the virus, and even she never seems to question it. Hopefully this will be expanded upon in book two because that seems like a pretty huge deal, but no one gives it much thought! There’s also one other area that lacked details, but it’s a little spoiler-esque, so I won’t go into it!
Overall, I liked The Ward. Was I blown away by it? Not really. But I enjoyed it, I do think it’s worth reading, and some elements of the plot will definitely surprise you!