Book Title/Author: The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Publisher/Year: Katherine Tegen Books – April 30th 2013
Genre: YA Dystopian — I don’t know quite how to categorize it.
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in a series.
Other Books From Author: None.
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
Manhattan has been washed out and street racer Ren lives in the Ward, the part that still remains of the underwater city, and risks her life racing to make money to take care of her sister Aven who suffers from the Blight — a horrible disease that came about because of pollution for which there is no cure. When the government asks Ren to go on a mission to find freshwater she puts herself in danger at the prospect of having more money to take care of Aven but what she finds is beyond what she could have ever imagined initially and pulls her into a mystery that could have a significant impact but deadly consequences for her.
This was one of my most anticipated books for the season because of the interesting premise, but I have to be honest, I was overall very disappointed and frustrated with this book. It had SO MUCH POTENTIAL but I spent the majority of the time either confused or frustrated or skimming over parts due to the world building and the way some things were written — which was really sad because I was so excited and some good friends LOVED it. Within the first 100 pages I was ready to put it down because it wasn’t doing anything for me but I kept going and eventually I was hooked on the storyline and wanting to find out what the heck was going on but I was still weighed down with the same problems the whole way through.
One of the biggest problems for me was that I just couldn’t picture the world at all which is pretty rare for me. I go to NYC frequently so in my head I constructed what I thought an underwater city would look like but there were paragraphs of descriptions and I just really had a hard time SEEING it. There were also times that I just could not envision a specific scene, like a racing scene or an action scene, and it just completely drew me out of the action a lot of times because I felt frustrated that I couldn’t follow along with what was going on. I would read over paragraphs and literally have no clue what happened or feel like I missed something and then I’d read over it again but still felt lost. This is not a problem I typically have — the writing just felt kind of shaky and scenes felt kind of jumbly to me.
The other issue I had was that I didn’t understand the world. I’m a patient reader so I know I’m not going to GET a world right away and I’m good at suspending disbelief but the world building just lacked for me. We got once sentence of WHAT happened that made NYC under water and a little bit of explanation for what the Blight was but that was about it. I couldn’t understand WHY people were still living there if the city flooded? I kept thinking that people wouldn’t be inhabiting this place if something like this really happened so I couldn’t understand the circumstances in which people were living here still and I didn’t see any explanation in the text. I felt frustrated with a lot of questions that didn’t get answered. Part of that could be because maybe they became irrelevant to the plot? I think I expected more of a post apocalyptic sort of novel where we’d get a good sense the world but instead we were plunked into the story in a world with little explanation. I think we aren’t super far into the future but then I see a reference to 2054 and then I see references to boundaries and things that are supposed to be States and they aren’t like our world but we aren’t given any insight to why things were different now. What happened? I could buy it if I understood any of it. There was just A LOT there and little foundation.
Obviously I kept reading because the plot did really start to get good and I just wanted to know ALL OF THE THINGS. There were some great twists and a total magical sort of element that I didn’t see coming at all. There were betrayals and secrets and I was genuinely interested because it all became very entertaining. I loved that Ren was badass and a fearless racer with all the guys. I liked her enough and rooted for her and sometimes she made me laugh. Other times she really bothered me but overall she was a good character. I loved how she cared so much for her “sister.”
While action-packed and thrilling with a really fresh and unique world, The Ward by Jordana Frankel unfortunately ended up just not doing it for me. It had a lot of potential but the world-building didn’t live up to what I imagined and the writing seemed kind of shaky and jumbled making A LOT of scenes hard to visualize and made the setting not quite as interesting as it could have been. I’m really sad about this because I was SO looking forward to it and many friends really enjoyed it but, unfortunately for me, the problems I had with it pulled me out of the story A LOT and I often felt frustrated or confused which severely put a damper on my enjoyment of the plot which really went in some interesting directions and kept me furiously turning the pages at points. I probably will not be reading the sequel unless I hear that the things that bothered me got better because, like I said, the story DID interest me enough.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Was I just the only one who could not visualize a lot of scenes that happened or the setting in general? I mean, I honestly would read paragraphs 2 or 3 times and still not feel totally clear and that is NOT USUAL for me. What did you think of the more magical twist that came up in the novel? I initially was not down with it but then it became interesting.