Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: The Ward by Jordana Frankel

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The Ward
Jordana Frankel
Series: The Ward #1
Genre: YA Dystopia
Publication date: April 30th 2013
by Katherine Tegen Books

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 thatโ€™s lurking deep beneath the waterโ€™s rippling surface.

-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
Another one to bite the dust.

I haven’t had the best of luck with dystopians lately. It may just be that I’m burnt out from them in general, though I’m likely just tired of the same formula in every single one. Sure this one had a slightly original premise with the world being in water etc, but it’s unfortunate that this wasn’t used in a more appealing way; except for a few words here and there about the world going to hell and high water, we don’t get any explanation at all on how this world came about, nor how society lives besides being sick and the adoption process (which was kind of thin). I find it imperative in any dystopian to truly connect the reader to the alarming nature of its futuristic world. It’s what I love about the genre; when done right, the future we see is plausible, making them frightening and its plot fascinating.

At first I was actually enjoying the book, the protagonist was one I really liked as she’s strong and confident. I liked that she took care of her friend for so long, putting herself in danger to make sure they had enough money. After a while, however, she really got on my nerves and I’m not even sure I can pinpoint why. Her obsession with Derek became irritating, as well as her reaction and snide comments about his girl-who-is-just-a-friend (in her words). None of the characters really connected with me. Aside from Aven who I thought was a fun character–ironically with her sickness she’s the one who gave the book the most life–none of the secondary roles had that great a personality, either. Most of them blended with one another; Ter, Kent, Benny… I couldn’t tell you who’s who.

The biggest issue I had with this book, though, was not the lack of world building or personality, it was with the inclusion of a fantastical/magical element in the plot. I was not expecting it, nor did I think it fit well with the rest of the story. It was turned from what could have been a great survival story into this chase for immortality. It was odd to say the least. I was quite enjoying it until this aspect was introduced so I do blame it for my breakup with this book. It wasn’t a serious dystopian to me anymore. Maybe some readers will really enjoy this bout of folklore in it, but when not expecting it I could see it receiving adverse reactions as well, making this novel a possible hit or miss for many.

I also have to point this out because it did bug me throughout: it is possible to turn sea water into fresh drinkable water using a desalination process–you can find many do it at home instructions online. While I understand they don’t have access to the internet anymore, they seem to be quite efficient technologically-wise–what with their Omnimobiles (land, sea, and air vehicles) and VEL tests to check for contagion–you’d think they would be able to use the ocean they live in to create drinkable water and squash this water shortage that is apparently a prominent problem. Although I’m no expert on desalination, maybe they couldn’t get the materials needed, or maybe they do have a system in place and only the rich have access to it, but I think this is where the author comes short–she failed to convince me of the world I was brought into. I never felt the dangers encompassing it and I found myself incredibly bored, to be honest.

I don’t think this was a terrible book. It has a really interesting setting with aspects that some will enjoy much more than I did, so I’m not going to say you should definitely pass on it, but I think it’s best to read a few reviews to get a better idea of what you’ll be getting into.

2 Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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38 Responses to “Review: The Ward by Jordana Frankel”

  1. Megan K.

    I actually started reading this a while back, but them decided to out it aside because the book was moving surprisingly slow. Unlike you, I don’t think I liked the MC much. Ugh, the lack of proper world-building would really get to me – especially the desalination thing! The author should’ve really done more research. Not sure if I should give this book another go, but thanks for the wonderful review, Giselle!

  2. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I really enjoyed the main character and I liked the racing aspects but I agree about the water purification/desalination thing. Why couldn’t they do this? I’m sure there were enough doomsday preppers out there who had the knowledge. Or books. What about books?

  3. Nick

    Well, you already know how I feel about this book. My review goes up tomorrow. Yes, the whole thing with the desalination pissed me off so much. It was probably one of the stupidest parts in this book.
    I liked the MC at first too, but the lack of execution of the plot bored me and I didn’t care what happened to any of them! >.<

  4. Amy

    Ugh! I am reading this one soon. Actually I put it off for a few other books because of the not so great reviews. I don’t think I will like this that much, but I will still read it since I have it for review. At least the MC isn’t awful. That I can’t take and will make me DNF a book quickly, but it is too bad that that other characters kind of just blend together. I also think the water thing will drive me crazy. Great review as always hon. (And I’m supposed to be on my blogging break, but love you too much to not visit your blog.)

  5. Sirtsu

    *phew* this was not on my TBR pile and luckily I never thought it would be. I don’t think it’s exactly my cup of a hot xpresso. I hate it too when I think it’s going to be a contemporary book and out of the blue there’s a witch, a demon or idk.. something else entirely. I can sure see why this could ruin a book for some people since it does for me. Boring as well? Yup. This won’t be on my tbr list.

  6. bookittyblog

    I never heard of this book before. I’m not sure if I will read it though. I agree with you about making the sea water drinkable. That’s what happen when you are a passionate reader. We want things to make sense. Great review.

  7. Megan R

    Hmm. I’m pretty sure you only need 2 containers and some plastic wrap to do home desalination.

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I think I’ll skip this one, so thanks for the warning!

  8. russell1200

    Desalination on a large scale takes a lot of energy. It is one of the reasons that many of the middle east producers want civilian nuclear power. On a lower level, all you need is a way to capture evaporated water/steam.

  9. Molli

    I never felt the dangers encompassing it and I found myself incredibly bored, to be honest.

    *eyes ARC* *lowers expectations* I am SO wary of dystopians. I wasn’t even going to read this one originally, but HT sent an ARC to me, so it’s on my TBR soon. I just, it DOES all feel the same after awhile, and I’ve had a run of bad luck recently with dystopians/sci-fi stuff, too, largely where the world-building suffers from what it sounds like this one did for you, Giselle. Too bad, because the premise really DOES sound good.

  10. Kris Chen

    I’m sorry to hear that this didn’t work out. It sounds like such an interesting premise, but it doesn’t sound believable from the characters to the world building. I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up. Thanks for the review!

  11. Kat Balcombe

    Noooooooooooo *breathes* oooooooooooo! Man, why can’t there just be a great, Post-apocalyptic book without throwing in other things, and a bit of decent world building. That can’t be too much to ask, surely!

    *grumbles off*

    Oh, but thanks for the fair warning ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Micheline D

    I can totally see the water thing just driving me crazy. And as much as I love magical elements I can see how a ‘magical-dystopian’ would be weird…especially if you weren’t expecting it. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t really feeling this one from the start and after reading your review, I don’t think this one’s for me. Thanks for the insightful review!

  13. Christianna Marks

    Interesting review! It’s so cool to see differing opinions to me own out here. You pointed out some things (like the water) that I didn’t even think about while reading. I was so sucked into the story that I didn’t really care or need much more of an explanation. Also I really liked her bare bones writing style. It made you have to come up with more details to fill in the blanks, but I thought her world building was interesting!

    It’s a bummer that this one didn’t live up to your expectations though. This was a great review!

  14. Aman

    Oh, so it’s more like a fantasy dystopian? Not something for me but I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I do question the desalination too. Thanks for your review ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Whoa. The saltwater thing sounds like a huge plot hole, one that shouldn’t have been overlooked by so many people who went through the book. I haven’t had much (read: none whatsoever) luck with dystopias either and it’s entirely possible that I’ve just outgrown the genre altogether, but even if I haven’t, this doesn’t sound like my kind of thing. Things that simply aren’t well thought-out don’t appeal to me at all.
    Thanks for taking one for the team… again.

  16. Kelley (Another Novel Read)

    Noooo! I’ve been really looking forward to this one, so it sucks to learn that it has some problems. Excellent, thorough review, as usual. I think I still want to give this book a try, so it’s nice to know what to expect.

  17. Candace

    Shoot. I have a copy of this one from ALA but I think I’ll skip it until later in the year and then maybe give it a shot when I’m not so overwhelmed with books. At least now my expectations won’t be so high and I’m warned about the ‘magical’ whatever thing so it won’t shock me. I hate being surprised like that though, so it’s good to know.

  18. Vi Nguyen

    Omg, I’m totally on the same page as you. I’m having major dystopian burnout and avoid them nowadays. They just don’t do it for me anymore. Sigh. And oh, I don’t like when they throw in a completely different aspect to try to make the book stand out, esp if it doesn’t mesh well. I def know I won’t be picking this up any time soon. Great review!

    Confessions of a Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

  19. Leigh @ Little Book Star

    I’m not a big fan of dystopians. In fact, the only dystopian book that I love is Catching Fire. I think I’m going to pass on this one. It sounds confusing and it seems like it has a few inconsistencies.

    Little Book Star

  20. Danny

    ah really this is too bad! I didn’t plan to read it as I am not so much into Dystopian anymore and you are not the first one not giving it some higher praise…

  21. Annabelle Marie Veronica

    I honestly really liked this one, but yes, the whole fantasy thing totally threw me off too. It completely came out of nowhere and left me flustered. I still found it really enjoyable but I can definitely see what you’re getting that. Awesome review, muffin. <3

  22. Alexa Y.

    I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one! I think, since I was coming off a few books that were absolutely terrible, I found this one to be a marked improvement. While the fantastical element was kind of out there, I think I was able to accept it for what it was and just enjoy the book. But your thoughts are super interesting, especially the part about the fact you can actually make saltwater into fresh water (which I didn’t really know – doh!). Thanks for sharing!

  23. Christina

    Bleh, they need to start explaining their dang world building. If you want to just have the world be this way, make it a fantasy, damn it. You can’t have your science fiction and eat it too! Or…something.

    I’ve got the audio of this, and I hope the narrator brings it to life a bit more. *crosses fingers* I liked her on the Don’t Turn Around audio, so I have some hope.

  24. A Canadian Girl

    Aw, bummer! I’m not a big dystopian fan but for some reason really wanted to read this one. I guess I’ll be avoiding it now if the secondary characters all blended together and thought the worldbuilding was underdeveloped and not very convincing.

  25. vivalabooks

    Aw, bummer, too bad this wasn’t for you. I’m such a big fan of dystopian books, but I feel like the genre has kind of been lakcing lately. And, the world building MAKES the book! It’s too bad there wasn’t much because the premise sounded so promising. I was really excited for this book, but now it’s been moved towards the back of my TBR pile.

  26. Melanie

    I AM BACK FROM THE DEAAAAD! (not really, just got stuck in a bunch of homework that disabled me from commenting on your beautiful blog)

    I am getting iffier and iffier on The Ward. Such a shame the MC got irritating as the story went, but overal she seems okay! >.< Aren't dystopians going well at the moment? Well… that really sucks as dystopia is one of my fav. genres for all, especially the ones written well. Hope you find something better!

    Just 2 expressos? Not cold or hot? I know…! IT CAN BE WARM (hmm…):D hehe, just a random thought

    Stunning review Giselle! <3

  27. Dragana Mitrovic

    First Taken by Erin Bowman and now The Ward. Two eARCs that I got from HarperCollins and was super excited to read. Until your reviews…
    I read a lot of books lately with unnecessary addition of magical elements. I also agree the story would be sometimes much better without magic.
    I will still these two books a chance, because I requested them. Who knows maybe lowered expectations turn out to be a good thing.
    Good and honest review as always.

  28. Bonnie R

    Yeah, this one wasn’t as fantastic as I was hoping it would be. I actually DNF’d it because I found the magical addition to be completely unnecessary. Great review!