Hope your Saturday is going well, and you're staying cool/dry wherever you are.
Our pick for our YA Sci-Fi Saturday series for this week, is Jordana Frankel's The Ward. Frankel's debut novel was released on April 30th, by Katherine Tegen books.
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books
Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
But the cover for The Ward drew me in immediately after I saw it on Tea Time with Team Epic Reads, and I knew I had to read this book.
Plot overview: (via Goodreads)
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.
Things that worked:
Let me be upfront: Ren isn't entirely likable as a character, but it clearly makes sense given the circumstances of her upbringing. I absolutely loved the fact that she was completely fearless, and basically willing to do anything for her friends/adopted family. She's protective, and she won't let you forget it.
The secondary characters may not necessarily be as memorable as Ren, but they're likable, loyal and brave in their own right. I think readers will appreciate the richness that they add to the background, and how they help make up the tapestry that is Ren's life.
* The enduring struggle to survive.
Throughout The Ward, Frankel makes it a point of emphasizing how hostile the environment truly is. We can almost feel the cramped environments that people are now living in; the brutal dankness of the orphanage, and the crushing fist of the dystopian government.
We see and feel the strong divide between the have and the have-nots living in the city, and how the various sectors of the city war against one another.
Frankel is very good at writing about the class struggle in The Ward in a way that makes you cheer for Ren, and makes you want to want them to endure, and to succeed - especially when they take on people who seemingly have far more power than they do.
I would say that ultimately, the struggle to survive almost comes off as very David vs. Goliath, and it makes for very interesting reading.
* The mythological elements.
This was unexpected, but I liked the fact that there was a mythological element in the story. It reminded me of Tuck Everlasting to a degree, and I look forward to seeing how this aspect of the plotline develops in the future.
* The sheer cinematic scale of the story.
New York City plays a very big role in the book, and I loved how Frankel uses the city landscape to full effect. The description of the water flooding the streets, the underground discoveries, the racing throughout the streets, were all beautifully described and interesting to imagine.
If The Ward is ever turned into a film, the scenery is definitely something I'm looking forward to seeing on screen.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
I feel bad for criticizing a debut author's writing, but I just couldn't jive with a lot of Frankel's writing in The Ward. A significant portion of the dialogue and characterizations just didn't feel as realistic or flow as smoothly as it could have, in my opinion.
I don't think I'm the only one with writing issues - Jaime from Two Chicks on Books also had similar concerns, including the fact that Ren couldn't seem to make up her mind on whether she was British or a kid from the street.
However, I also think that Frankel is clearly the type of writer who can only improve with time, and I look forward to witnessing her becoming even better than before. So please don't let my issues with the writing stop you from picking this up.
* The romance.
I think my issue with the romance can be summarized with this:
Too much insta-love. I'm hoping that in the next book, Ren goes for the less obvious choice.
I recommend this book for fans of The Maze Runner, Not a Drop to Drink and Breathe.
About the author:
She's been a camp counselor, a salesperson of diamonds, a hostess at a southwestern grill, an archivist of rare books, a yoga instructor, and a reading teacher, but her shining moment was when she got to hang out in Walmart for 12 hours a day as the AXE girl.
She received her B.A. in English from Goucher College, graduated and then went to live in Italy for a year. Afterwards she then went for her MFA in Poetry at Hollins University.
But then she graduated and she moved back to NYC.
She got her first job at The Literary Group International as a literary agency, where she'd started as an intern reading queries and then assisted editorially. At Linn Prentis Literary, also a literary agency, she handled foreign sales, picked up gems from unsolicited mail, and helped authors through the publishing process. And then it was onto The Book Report Network where she handled ads and promos for features on Teenreads.com, Kidsreads.com, and GraphicNovelReporter.com.
Jordana is currently writing a (history textbook/) novel entitled THE WARD, forthcoming from KT Books/HarperCollins in 2013. She also teaches creative writing workshops for kids ages 8 to 18 through Writopia Lab, a non-profit organization based in New York City.