Book Review of The Ward by Jordana Frankel

Posted May 2, 2013 by Kara in Uncategorized / 20 Comments

Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release Date: April 30th, 2013
Pages: 480
Genre: Dystopia
Series: The Ward #1
Source: Edelweiss

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Description from Goodreads: 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.

The Ward was one of my most anticipated 2013 reads. I liked parts of it, but the more I think about it, the more problems I have. First of all, you should know that I had a completely different expectation of what this book was going to be about. Which was totally my fault by the way, but it doesn’t really matter because that’s not why I rated it down anyway. I just thought it needed to be stated. I guess I didn’t read the blurb closely enough and saw the awe-inducing cover and just jumped up and down like a fool and that was that. So when the beginning started out with this girl racing up and down buildings, I was like, “Oh $&@# me.” I thought about putting it down. But I stuck it out. And I was glad I did, because the story in The Ward is actually incredibly well-written. But the world-building, not so much.

But first, the good things:

The writing. I quite liked it. I thought it was a great balance of sensory language, plot, dialogue, descriptions, etc. It flowed really well and I liked the  sentence structure and voice of the author. Technically, here is not a lot to criticize here. I’ve read some reviews where readers were mentioning that they were having an issue picturing some of the settings, and I didn’t have that problem. 

I also really liked Ren as a protagonist. I thought she was likable, kind, and  determined. She had a lot of depth to her character–she had likes and dislikes, friends, opinions, and everything to me that makes a character great. It was a little unnerving sometimes the way she obsessed over Derek, but it wasn’t often and I’ve seen much worse in other books. If I could put her character on a ten point scale, I’d give her about an 8.5.

The rest of the characters though? Mehhhh. Derek was okay but he pissed me off a lot and his justification for doing things the way he did them didn’t work for me. So I really didn’t like him much and I am not all about the relationship in this novel the way I am in other books. I can take them or leave them. I don’t think they are a really good match for each other but I don’t hate them together either. I really don’t care, to be honest. I liked Callum a lot more than Derek. But he was kind of boring so that should tell you something. But Aven? She stole every scene that she was in. 

But the plot is where The Ward excelled. There’s a plague and a search for a cure that takes the reader into some pretty exciting locations and scenes. It’s exhilarating and there were times I almost found myself holding my breath in anticipation of what would happen next. I was worried. Worried whether Ren would be able to pull it off and complete all her goals. 

Not a fan of underwater scenes? Do they make you claustrophobic? You are going to want to skip this book. I almost lost my mind with the anxiety I had during one particular scene. It was really exciting. There’s a fantasy element to this story that some readers didn’t care for, but I kind of loved it. I thought it was unique and only served to give the plot even more depth.

 The ending though was very disappointing for me. It just had to end on a cliffhanger and I am getting a little tired of those. Sometimes I don’t mind, but I feel like this one was done as a clear money grab so the author could write a second book. The Ward would have worked fine as a standalone and I almost feel like boycotting the sequel on principle. 

The world-building though is the main reason I rated this one as a 3 star. There just wasn’t enough of it. Not enough explanation of how this world got to be the way it was. And then I talked to Giselle from Xpresso reads and she also pointed out that with this much water and this much technology, it’s utterly ridiculous that water is in such high demand and no one could figure out the desalinization process. She’s right. It’s stupid. They have all these high tech vehicles and medical processes, but no way to remove the sale from water when there are already devices TODAY that can do that? 50 years from now they should be able to do that on a large scale, one would think. I am not convinced. Because of that, like a house of cards, the rest of the world-building comes tumbling down. I just feel like the author missed out on an opportunity to really explain what was going on and all we got was a paragraph. So I think you’re going to be disappointed if you are one of those readers that really lives for the world-building in your dystopians. But if you are reading this for plot alone, I think there’s a good chance you might like it. I’m on the fence still at this point. 

There was also some stupid mean girl bullshit that I could have done without completely. And slut-shaming. Because apparently Matahari and Cleopatra were sluts. LOL. No. 

3/5 Dragons

20 responses to “Book Review of The Ward by Jordana Frankel

  1. Without world-building, books usually lose their flavor for me. Although this book seems to have a mix of good and bad aspects to it, I have a feeling I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Thanks for the honest review, Kara!(:

  2. Jaz

    Hrmmm I’ve heard so much about this book. There’s heaps of hype around it.

    After reading your review I’m still not sure I want to read it – no world building in a dystopian? The world building is the most important part of a Dystopic novel! I can’t connect with the characters and their world without it.

    I know 3 people who rated this as DNF D:

    Gonna wait for some more reviews to see what people think but I think your review has me decided 😛

  3. Amy

    Great review chick!! I’m glad that you were able to enjoy this one. I tried to read it about three times, and I just couldn’t really get into it. It could be my dystopia burn out, or I just wasn’t feeling it at the time. I was really looking forward to this one too, but it just wasn’t holding my attention. Maybe I will like it at a different time. The underwater scenes sound awesome. I never got to those.

  4. See, the bad world-building is a deal breaker for me. I’m still going to read this one, and I hope I like it, and the characters, but the world-building HAS to be there and it has to be convincing. *shakes head* Anyway, fab review, Kara. Thanks for telling us what you liked instead of just what you didn’t like!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  5. I can see why this was a bit of a disappointment for you. I think going in with no expectations made this a higher-rated book for me. I had a lot of fun with it. There did need some more worldbuilding, but I loved the idea of an underwater NY. Also: omnimobiles!

    Giselle’s point is really, really valid. If I had been smart enough to think of that when reading, or read this after reading both of your reviews, my rating would have been lower.

    • There was a lot of cool stuff going on in this book, but I just had a tough time picturing it at times. The omnimobiles were very cool though. But again, I couldn’t really picture how those were supposed to look. Meh.

      Yeah, her point really made me think about a lot of things.

  6. I don’t know how I’m going to like this one. I think like you, I got distracted by the awesomeness that is the cover. But, the world-building is definitely a big issue especially since it’s a dystopian. I mean, c’mon, authors! Don’t write a dystopia if you can’t do world-building. It’s a requirement in the genre. There seems to be an equal amount of good and bad in the book though so I guess I’ll just see when I get to it. THanks for the honest review, Kara!

  7. “And then I talked to Giselle from Xpresso reads and she also pointed out that with this much water and this much technology, it’s utterly ridiculous that water is in such high demand and no one could figure out the desalinization process. She’s right. It’s stupid.”

    I read the blurb just now and I was like, with all that water and a cute scientist they can’t create fresh water, and then I read your review and I was like, exactly! Oh well, at least there were redeeming factors in the writing. Super review.

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