How High’s the Water, Mama: THE WARD by Jordana Frankel

Posted 19 April, 2013 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 22 Comments

THE WARD (The Ward #1) by Jordana Frankel
YA Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
480 pages, hardcover
Available April 30, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

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.

Here’s the thing: I’ve read some not-so-great reviews for this book but, to me, it was quite enjoyable (as far as ohmigod-we’re-all-gonna-die-the-end-is-nigh books go, anyway). It’s fast-paced, there’s plenty of action, conflict and drama; and the main character is one brave chickadee.

And lo, the waters rose, flooding the Earth. Manhattan was swamped, the flood waters pouring in and destroying the city as we know it and decimating the population. Those who lived moved to higher ground and began the difficult task of rebuilding their lives and trying to survive in a drowned city. The waters didn’t receed but, instead, stagnated in many places and became highly polluted (bodies, chemicals and other flotsam will do that to a body of water).

Because of this toxic water, a deadly virus called HBNC now races through the population and fresh water is more precious than gold. The city is divided between those who have more access to clean water and aren’t sick versus those who struggle to survive (isn’t that always the way?). There is no place for protest or civil disobedience within this world — follow the rules, turn in the sick or die. The worldbuilding beyond that is a bit shaky, missing detail that would bring it into sharp focus but it’s clear enough for the story’s purposes.

For distraction, those on the wrong side of the divide have races in which brave and foolhardy souls drive across rooftops, skip across toxic waters and risk their lives for the prize as well as infamy amongst the downtrodden. Ren, our main character, is one of those racers — the top racer — and the only female. But she races for the sister-of-her-heart, Aven, who lies sick with HBNC and who depends on Ren for her very survival. Ren also works for the enemy — the very government who rules their lives — and they want her to throw a race to find a freshwater spring that lives only in myth. 

Favorite parts: Ren’s devotion to her sister is laudable; she’s a tough, no-nonsense girl who deals the best she can with the rampant sexism thrown her way (and dished out by her, too, sadly. But I’m not going to get into that.). The crazy races are thrilling, reading much like those ridiculous yet prolific (and strangely addictive) Fast and Furious movies, and the tension remains high throughout the story.

Not so much: What’s up with the no water thing? Giselle at Xpresso Reads mentioned desalination of seawater, something that was in the back of my mind as I read the story, too. Why can’t they use that process on seawater, rather than searching for fresh and rationing what they had? Also, I was not a fan of the romance. The guy kind of creeped me out and I just knew he had a secret agenda. Untrustworthy jerk. Really, it was more of a distraction from the racing and the search for a cure of the disease.

Overall, THE WARD is an enjoyable ride — buckle in and be prepared for many ups and downs, curves and sharp edges.

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22 Responses to “How High’s the Water, Mama: THE WARD by Jordana Frankel”

  1. Yes Giselle made a valid point and this seems truly weird. I mean the author must at least address this question and come up with a solution why this won’t work.
    Also… if you didn’t like the romance.. Doesn’t seems like my kind of book!

  2. I actually really enjoyed this one too! I was confused a lot during the race scenes because I just had trouble picturing what the cars looked like and how they worked, but I liked the world as a whole. I loved Ren, and I agree with you on her relationship with her sister. Definitely a highlight! I didn’t mind the love interest, I kind of liked him actually (not sure what that says about me o.O – I guess I see the person I want him to be and maybe not so much the guy he is currently. Fail.). I’m looking forward to the next book!

    • I’m definitely looking forward to the next book. The race scenes were chaotic but I did the best I could with picturing everything. And the love interest…I’ll give him a chance (but the whole marriage thing — what was THAT?!?).

  3. Actually I wasn’t thinking of desalinization as I read your review, but it makes sense. What about rain water? Hm… anyway, it does sound like an interesting dystopian. I just hope I wouldn’t get too caught up with the deets like I feel like I could… Oh I think I’d be with you on the water thing… 😀

  4. Yes this book is getting all kinds of mixed reviews and I can’t decide what to think. I am such a stickler for world building and I think the lack of details would drive me nuts so it probably isn’t a great read for me. Thanks for the honest review. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Mary!

  5. I’m glad this one was still an enjoyable read for you cause I have a copy and figure I will be reading it at some point. The water thing I might be able to overlook but I’m a bit disappointed the romance isn’t better. I guess we’ll see what I think!

  6. Ah! I’ve run into a few books lately where the love interest completely creeped me out. How can we swoon when the guy is totally shady and suspicious? The main character sounds awesome, but the world-building sounds a bit shaky. I don’t like when the reason for the dire situation the world is in just doesn’t make sense.

    Great review!

  7. It’s always nice when you don’t expect much but end up enjoying a book after all. I still don’t know that this is for me, I get too annoyed by plotholes like the water thing, but you never know.
    I’m glad you had fun reading it, Mary!

    • I know! I love when that happens. And I kind of glossed over the water thing until I sat down to review it (hindsight and all…) so it didn’t *really* bother me.

  8. I’m still looking forward to this one, despite the meh reviews I’ve read so far, and the glaring plot holes I’ve read about. Glad to hear you enjoyed it in spite of its imperfections and that it was a fun ride!