Paolo Bacigalupi is an award winning science fiction writer of The Windup Girl, which I read and reviewed a few years ago and enjoyed in the sense that I honestly was breathing in the thick, humid air of his world. He has a unique writing style that travels across all his works and it appears again in his young adult book The Drowned Cities. I define it as a young adult novel because the majority of characters are quite young and it’s complexity is nowhere near the level of The Windup Girl; however, it could be better described as crossover literature as anyone over the age of ten would receive just as much enjoyment from turning its pages.
Bacigalupi’s unique style of world building presents characters that are well and truly a product of their landscape and, especially in the case of The Drowned Cities, exist to reflect the world’s he creates. Because of this, it did take me a few chapters to get into it, but once I was, I was keen to know what happened next!
In the end, it was the world that had me hooked rather than the characters. It was fun picking up all the clues about where the novel was set in comparison to our real world, but the world building was to the detriment of character development. I didn’t develop any real emotional connections with the characters like I normally would in young adult literature and, even though this is definitely a bleak story with heavy themes, I wasn’t invested in what happened to them.
Overall, it’s not as heavy at The Windup Girl, so it’s a good introduction to Bacigalupi’s works.