The Ward by Jordana Frankel

The WardThe Ward by Jordana Frankel
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on April 30, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★★

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!

The Verdict


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    1. Yeah it’s not a bad story. Just be prepared for a totally unexpected fantasy twist!

  1. I really didn’t like the lack of worldbuilding here, what drew me to The Ward was its unique premise and then reading through it and not finding out much about how Manhattan became waterlogged was disappointing. I wasn’t a big fan of the romance here 🙁 it seemed so sudden and out of the blue and I hated not knowing why Ren liked Derek at all because she just starts gushing about him. I really need to feel a connection between the two characters to get invested in their relationship. So yeah, like you, I felt this was okay – nothing epic nor too bad. Shame though, The Ward had great potential.

    Awesome review Ashley 😀

    Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews recently posted: Stacking the Shelves (#10)
    1. Yeah I wish there was more world building too. It was such a fascinating idea and I would have loved to learn so much more about it!

  2. I just posted my review of this today! LOL! I liked it well enough. I loved the concept. And, having grown up in NYC, it was interesting to read about a post appocolyptic world set in the city. I liked Ren a lot. I thought she was spunky, loyal and independent. Some say she came off as selfish, but I didn’t see that. I am not so sure about Derek, he’s a mystery. As is Callum, I need more background on him. I def agree about the world building. I needed a bit more.

    Brooke recently posted: Showcase Sunday #3
    1. Hm I don’t think I caught the “selfish” bit either! I don’t remember ever thinking that about her!

  3. Great review Ashley!!! I’m glad to hear that this is an enjoyable read, even if not the best of the best. I’m gonna dive into this soon an now I’m looking forward to it. I’m not sure what I’ll think of the romance. I do love it but it seems like it might be nice to have a break from it. Either way, here’s to hoping I’ll enjoy it!

    Inky recently posted: DNF Review: Taken
    1. Yeah I like having a sizable dose of romance too! I’ll be curious to see if you like this one or not! Fingers crossed that you do!

    1. Yeah I totally didn’t expect that fantasy aspect. I imagined pure science fiction/dystopian, but suddenly it went in an entire different direction!

    1. Thank you Sharon! It’s a bummer that there wasn’t more background information because it was all so interesting! I would have loved to read more about it.

  4. Oh man. This book sounds simultaneously very interesting but also frustrating. I would also want to know those kinds of things, and the fact that so many questions (big questions, imo) are left unanswered makes me nervous. I wonder if I would be able to brush those questions aside and enjoy the book, or if I would just be frustrated.

  5. It’s always funny when a book has paranormal/fantasy elements that it tries to pass off as science, but doesn’t really back up with enough evidence. A lot of the time, those elements would work perfectly fine, just if they were presented as something other than science. And it is a shame that the world-building wasn’t quite as fleshed out as you would have liked.

    On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of books that feature a sibling relationship, and the society Ren lives in does sound pretty interesting. I’m intrigued about the futuristic sports! 😉

    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts recently posted: Book Review: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter
  6. Whenever someone says the world building in a story is pretty bad I tend to stray from those books but after reading the selection last year (which i loved) if people say the plot’s still good I give them a chance! Great Review Ashley!

    Lily recently posted: The Elite(The Selection#2):Review
  7. I’m planning to start The Ward pretty soon, so it’s good to hear that you enjoyed it, Ashley – I hadn’t been hearing many positive reviews for it lately. Character interaction is SO important. I’m glad that we could see how dedicated Ren was to Aven even without them interacting much. I’m not sure I’d like science-fiction novels to be mixed with fantasy, but it still sounds really well done here. Yeah, tons of people have been complaining about the lack of world building, so that’s kind of disappointing.

    I’m quite intrigued about the mobile racing part, though. Racing is something we don’t see too often in YA novels these days. Thanks for such a balanced review, Ashley!

    Megan @ Ink Skies recently posted: The Boyfriend App Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

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