Thursday, August 29, 2013

Secrets in the Ward

We take fresh water for granted, but there are parts of the world where freshwater is a commodity. When that becomes the case for New York City, especially after the Wash Out, fresh water is the only thing people care about, next to a cure for the Blight. In Jordana Frankel's first novel in The Ward series, we see just how far people are willing to go to save the lives of those they love. 

Ren can't tell anyone she works for the Blues, even if it is only to scout for water. Everyone would think she was a traitor who turned in the sick for a ransom rather than a selfless hero searching for a source of freshwater to sustain the population. Granted she wouldn't be working for the Blues had she not gotten arrested and forced to work for them, but still, she believes she is doing a good thing to find fresh water for the sick, dying, quarantined population. When she is told by a Blue to search a specific quadrant in the middle of a race whose purse she needs desperately, she can't tell him her sister is home suffering the final stages of the Blight. Instead of finding just fresh water, however, she finds something more important than she ever could have imagined. 

She finds water that is essentially the Fountain of Youth, heavily guarded and protected, but powerful enough to cure everyone of the Blight. Or at least for a little while. When her sister Aven drinks the water, it beats back the Blight in her body briefly, but then it makes her worse. Now Aven must get to the bottom of what was int hat water to make Aven better, how to get more of it, and how to cure her sister. What she doesn't expect is a crazy governor, a group of guards who protect the spring to the death, and even people who she thought she could trust who have darker intentions. All Ren wants to do is save people, but it seems like everyone is standing in her way.

A good PA or dystopia has to create a world I understand and believe in. Unfortunately, The Ward had great potential, but it really didn't delve very deep into the world that was so integral to the entire story. For instance, what is the full story of the washout that dropped New York City into the water? How is it possible to have lots of technology like racers and some "party noise filter" that gives you a beam of silence in a party to talk in but still be poor enough to not be able to treat the illness or at least buy pain relievers, or even have electricity? The racing is another thing I never truly understood. They are subs, but then they are on the roof? At first I worried I had possibly read the book too fast, and that this caused me to miss this important backstory, but in looking at some other reviews online, I realized I wasn't the only one pretty confused with the backstory. This was a shame for me because the story was actually pretty interesting and read quickly for its size. But still, the backstory was a huge thing to leave out of the story and it took away from my enjoyment of the story. I hope Frankel puts more into the back story of the rest of the series, but I am concerned the story is going to struggle without having already established this background.

Ren is a great character with a headstrong need to help people, even in a world where so many are dying. I like her relationship with Aven even though they aren't blood sisters, and how Aven is the only concern for Ren's entire life. It made Ren an investible character for me, even when I struggled with other parts of the story. I was a little torn and confused about some of the supporting characters like Ter, Derek, and Callum, but I guess there could be more to give them a boost in the next book. Overall, this wasn't a bad book, but I shouldn't have finished 460+ pages with so many questions about basic plot points and characters. I don't think I would give this story to many students unless they were strong readers and could handle the plot holes. It might be interesting for someone who has already read a lot of PA or dystopias and is looking for another. I will certainly read the next book in the series, but I strongly hope Frankel plugs the holes when she writes it!

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