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.
As a mobile racer, Ren puts her life on the line each time she gets into her craft. But racing is the only way she has to make money she needs to take care of her dying sister. The seawater covered Manhatten, known as the Ward, isn't exactly the most forgiving place. Fresh water is more precious than gold as they are completely dependent on rainwater for drinking. So when the government caught her doing something she shouldn't have, she quick to accept their offer to help them seek out a new source of freshwater. But she never could have predicted where her search would take her, and the secrets it would reveal. Suddenly there's so much more at stake than just water, and Ren will have some hard choices ahead of her, for the wrong ones could very well change the very fate of the world.
I loved Ren's character. She is so fierce and every emotion she goes through is so powerful that it's astonishing. I really felt like I was experiencing everything right along with her. I really felt for her determination to be the best racer despite the prejudice surrounding her as the only female in the running. Sure, she's got a bit of a chip on her shoulder, but she's more than proved her worth as a racer time and time again. And more importantly, she's racing to support her dying sister, who isn't a blood relative, but a chosen one, making Ren's love and determination to do whatever it takes to protect her rather incredible. Another thing that really impressed me was that while she had such a powerful crush on her love interest, once things started to be revealed, especially in the negative, she didn't let her judgement get clouded. She also wasn't blinded by those revelations and still kept her mind open to give him a chance to prove himself. Considering what was going, I felt this was impressive. That being said, in the overall scheme of things, the relationship really only played a very minor part, but even so, I felt it progressed realistically considering the circumstances.
I have to admit that if I wasn't such a character driven person, THE WARD probably wouldn't have been as enjoyable of a read for me as the world building is a bit lacking. I mean the world is incredible, and quite frankly terrifying. I've always had a fear of a giant tsunami wave coming barrelling into the East Coast, and movies like 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, etc have practically scarred me for life. THE WARD shows life after such an event, and it's brutal. That being said, things just weren't quite developed enough for my tastes. I wanted to know more about everything that led them to these circumstances, and where the crazy virus came from, or why it wasn't consistent in its speed of "attack." I'm also surprised that there wasn't some sort of salt water filtration used instead of only relying on rainwater. I mean there's a method of boiling salt water with two pots that can be done at home that isn't complicated, just a bit time consuming. So it did make the plight of not having a lot of drinkable water a bit confusing. I also have to admit that the racing scenes were a bit much for me. I had a really hard time following them as I couldn't quite picture the logistics in my head despite the lengthy in-depth descriptions. After the third or fourth complicated maneuver I was left scratching my head as to what bloody position the craft was in at that point. It honestly was rather frustrating, and led me to start skimming those sections.
THE WARD is one of those books that solidly keeps your attention despite its flaws. The pacing was steady, and I found it hard to put it down even when I became a bit frustrated at parts. That being said, it could have gone from good to great in my book if there had of been a bit more explanation about the world behind the circumstances. All in all, THE WARD is an interesting post-apocalyptic-dystopian world that I would like to see more of.
(Received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss)