The Ward by Jordana Frankel| Book Review

The Ward by Jordana FrankelBook Title/Author: The Ward by Jordana Frankel
: 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.

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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.


The Ward by Jordana Frankel review


Don’t just listen to my opinion! My friend Alexa said The Ward by Jordanna Frankel was “a pretty fantastic debut novel” and Rachel recommends it as well!

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.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I didn’t read it nor do I plan to do so.. I really am tired of Dystopian and it definitely is not my favorite genre. Of course, if there would have been amazing reviews but so far, it seems like it’s not totally standing out..

  2. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer) says:

    Aww I was totally looking forward to this book as well! The premise makes it sound like it has TOOOONS of potential, but sadly, it looks like it lacked severely in the world-building department. I can’t stand it when I’m confused half the time in a story, and I’m sorry you had to experience that! Although I’m glad the plot pacing picked up and that you enjoyed Ren as a character. I probably won’t be picking this book anymore, but thanks so much for the fantastic and honest review, Jamie!

  3. I’m reading this one right now and I’m almost done! I get what you’re saying for sure, but I actually like that the worldbuilding is a so bare boned style, but I’ve always been that way. It’s just a bummer that it didn’t do more for you, but I’m glad that ended up enjoying it even if it wasn’t as good as you wanted it to be.

  4. What a relief that the sequel doesn’t have to immediately go on the TBR list! I’m tired of dystopian, also. I just listened to Daughter of Smoke and Bone and really do want to hear what happens next in Days of Blood and Starlight. Otherwise, I haven’t been reading much YA lately.

  5. I’m sorry you didn’t like it, especially since you were looking forward to it so much! 🙁 I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more than you did, but it still wasn’t the mind blowing book I thought it would be.

  6. Meh. I am so sick of dystopian novels with just one paragraph explaining how the world got that way (think Divergent and Dualed), but now we just get one sentence? Not even a proper infodump? Sigh.

    I’ve got the audio of this up next after House of Secrets. I’m hoping it will be better on audio, because I know most of my friends haven’t been impressed. Audio’s like my last ditch effort for things I think I might not like in print but want to read. Haha.

  7. Oh nooo, I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! I’ll probably still try it to see how I feel, but I fear I’ll have the same issues! After my very much failed attempt to write a dystopian for NaNo, I can never forget all the HOWs and the WHYs of a dystopian novel because trying to come up with the reasons? Pretty dang hard! Nevertheless, the answers to those questions are really important to me when I’m supposed to be totally submerged (no pun intended lol) in this dystopian world.

  8. I think world building depends a lot on the narrative style. If we don’t know anything that the main character doesn’t know, then it might be more bare boned. I will be reading this soon and I have to admit your review has me interested.

  9. Ugh, well that’s two so-so reviews I’ve read of this just today. *grinds teeth* I already have a love/hate relationship with dystopians (I’m spoiled from THE GIVER as a kid, and I think irrationally I hold most dystopians to its example, and so a lot of them just fall flat for me.) It’s too bad you had such trouble picturing things, Jamie. I like it when an author gives me a sense of where I am, and then I can close my eyes and fill in the rest. If I can’t do that, boooo. This one sounds like a stinker. Maybe I’ll like it more than you did.

  10. Awww… that is so disappointing! I hate it when you can’t get a good enough picture of the world, and confusing action scenes are the worst. I’m intrigued by this “magical twist” you mentioned, though… and I was really looking forward to this one, so I’ll probably still read it just to quench my curiosity. 🙂

  11. This is really disappointing to hear! I was so looking forward to reading this.

    With a book like this you really need to have good world building and I would be incredibly frustrated as well if I couldn’t picture it in my mind because that’s part of the reason I love reading so much!

  12. I passed on this one because there was something about it that made me leery. You confirmed my concerns. Dystopian novels are getting to be too common, and one not done well just brings down the entire genre. Ah well. Better luck next time!

  13. My excitement for this book has definitely wavered a bit. I have heard such mixed reviews for this book, and I have no idea what to think! Haha. I’m still interested in picking it up, but I’ll probably be going in with lower expectations.

    Thanks for the review, Jamie!

  14. It’s a shame that the world-building and the descriptions didn’t work out as they should have. That’s one of my main problems with some dystopian books, not being able to picture what the author’s talking about. Great review, though. I’ll know what to expect IF I do read it, though I probably wont.

  15. As I mentioned in my review as well, I too had difficult visualizing the world and other things (like the racing) in this book. It didn’t take away too much from my enjoyment though! I did end up really liking this story, in spite of the crazy things that get thrown in (that magical element, the whole lack of explanation of the blight, the so-called romance). I’m sorry it wasn’t as good as you anticipated for your experience though!

  16. This cover catches my eye every time I see it but for some reason, the summary hasn’t reeled me in enough that I remember it or am anticipating it highly. It’s such a bummer when you really want to like a book and have a disconnect with world-building or visualizing or something else, but the great thing is there are a bazillion other books just waiting for you. Great, honest thoughts Jamie! I love them because they are helpful to me!!

  17. I can’t wait to read this book! I love the cover but I won’t go into it with the hight hopes I had before. 🙂

  18. Aww, that’s such a shame. I was so looking forward to this one. I still plan on reading it, and hope it works better for me than it did for you, if not just because of that eye-catching cover!

  19. I’ve heard great things about this one, but I’ll be honest, the summary didn’t really do it for me. It wasn’t one I thought I’d like to read on my own. I may end up checking it out anyway…but thanks for your honest review 🙂

  20. Ouhh I really want to read this one!!

  21. I only just started reading this, but been struggling a little. I’ve basically read the same page like five times now, every time I sit down and start eating something. And I’m still stuck on that same page! I just don’t get it.
    But let’s hope it gets more intriguing after a while! 🙂

    Monaliz @ Mind Reading?

  22. I wasn’t initially going to read this one, but I actually loved it. I thought it was a different take on the whole dystopian genre…almost like a medical thriller.
    I get what you mean about the world building. I couldn’t picture the vehicles or the races, and I wish that there was more detail on how the ward became the ward, but overall I’m happy with this novel and will be reading the series through.

  23. Kayla C says:

    I can’t wait to read this!! It is on the top of my TBR list 🙂