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.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
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.