April 3, 2013

The Ward - Jordana Frankel

The Ward book cover
The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Source/Format: Borrowed from Jamie (Thanks!) || ARC

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. (from Goodreads)

The Ward was one of my most anticipated debuts for 2013, mostly because of the fact that it sounded like an epic post-apocalyptic story set in New York City. I'm happy to be able to report that, overall, it did not disappoint. Jordana Frankel introduces us to a kick-ass main character, as well as drawing elements of government conspiracy, natural disaster and scientific discovery into the mix.

Ren is probably one of my favorite book characters of this year. She's reckless and brave, and desires to be seen as more than just a girl. This leads to mobile racing, a dangerous sport that apparently involves jumping from building to building and even going underwater in a specially designed vehicle. Ren ends up being really good at the races, despite the danger, and that definitely screams badass to me. In order to be good at the races, you have to also be intelligent and logical - and Ren is that too.

On the other hand, she's also one of those people who has a difficult time being vulnerable. She rarely opens up to others, as she doesn't like the idea of being left behind and heartbroken should something happen to people she cares about.  But she makes an exception for one person in this book - Aven, her foster sister. It's both heartwarming and heartbreaking to see how much she cares for Aven and would do just about anything to ease Aven's pain and suffering and keep her alive. No matter what else she encounters, Aven is generally her top priority at all times.

You'll also encounter a few intriguing side characters - Benny (Ren's mechanic, who's a genius with the mobiles), Terrence (one of Ren's friends, who's slightly more well-to-do after being adopted, but is such a sweetie), Callum (a scientist who believes he may be able to find a way to create a cure for the Blight), Derek (Ren's bookie for the races, who also happens to be a guy she finds... alluring) and of course, Aven (Ren's wonderful, positive foster sister suffering from the Blight). They were certainly well-done and didn't feel at all contrived, and I like how Frankel was able to weave them well into the overall story.

As for the story itself, I thought it was fantastic. I really could not put it down for very long periods after I'd started, as I just had to know what would happen next. The pacing of the story was really well-done, as I never felt like we were going through lull periods - there was always something happening. It's also fairly easy to keep track of what's going on, as the separate stories - Aven's condition, Ren's mobile racing, her work for the government, her coordination with the young scientist - are all woven together so seamlessly.

Really, I only had two little problems with this book. One is the setting. I live in the Bronx, and work in New York, so I was hoping to be able to visualize where these characters were. I understand that the flooding might have changed things up a bit, but I was expecting to find at least a few landmarks that I could recognize and understand. I felt like I was flailing a little bit when it came to figuring out just where exactly everything was situated, even though there were a few spots that seemed familiar.

And the second was the idea of mobile racing, mostly because it took me a while to come up with an idea of what it was like. After thinking about it, I think I may have a mental image of what it could possibly be like now. It's a bit hard to come to one concrete idea of the mobiles used in the racing, and the actual races, but here's what I picture. The vehicle is car-like, but there's extra equipment attached to help with the jumps and to allow it to travel underwater. So it's basically a hybrid car/submarine. And the races are basically not charted out, so the racers can just use whatever path to get to the final destination - which means random jumping or submerging. The idea is visually appealing, if you can imagine that, and would translate well onto film, I'm sure.

All in all, The Ward was a pretty fantastic debut novel. Frankel's writing managed to bring Ren and her story to life in front of my eyes, and I loved the fact that I felt fully submerged in this novel. I can tell from the end that there's going to be a sequel, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Frankel has up her sleeve for us next, and what will happen to Ren, Aven and the rest of the crew.


  1. I've been really excited about this book too! I love strong female characters, so I have a feeling I'd really like Ren as well. Thanks for your review!

  2. I'm happy this didn't disappoint! I'm looking forward to it. ^^ The cover is awesome and I love a good post-apocalyptic book. Lovely review!

  3. I've been waiting to get this book, because it just sounded so interesting. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope I like it too! Great review!

  4. Oh YAYYY. I was a little bit hesitant about this one simply because I've felt like I haven't read many good dystopian/post-apocalyptic books lately, so I'm SO glad to hear that this one was so good for you! Now I'm a little bit more excited to pick it up! :)

  5. The mobile racing things sounds pretty neat haha. And Ren is def a character I will love too I have this one as well to read and I hadn't read a single review of it yet so I didn't know what to expect. I'm so glad you liked it it sounds like a solid debut!

  6. I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this one! I've been excited to read it ever since I first heard about it. The mobile racing sounds really cool, and I'm a huge fan of post-apocalyptic/dystopia so I'll be picking this one up when it's released. Great review!

  7. I thought this one was pretty great too, I liked that it was so fast paced and there was just always something exciting going on. I had the same problems as you did with the setting and the racing parts, they were a bit confusing to me and I've never even been to New York but it was just either going by too fast or not very detailed. I enjoyed it a lot though. Great review!

  8. This is such a fantastic review, Alexa! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this as much as you did, because I have been so excited to read this book.

  9. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this one, but after reading your review I really want to now. The fact that you didn't want to put it down makes me excited. I think the setting not feeling like NY would bother me too (I'm from Jersey), but I could probably get past that. Great review!

  10. Thanks for your review I have been excited to read this book ever since I saw it on epic reads. Good to know you enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

  11. I'm so glad to hear your thoughts on this one! I've been debating whether to read it or not, but I know if you highly recommend it, then it's probably amazing. I always love a good heroine! And I was definitely excited to see that it takes place in New York, although it's kind of a bummer you weren't able to visualize it...Still, I think I will pick it up after all.

  12. Oh, I'm so glad that you enjoyed this so much! I have been excited to read this one for a while now too, and yours is actually the first review I've read, so I'm even more looking forward to reading it. Ren sounds like my kind of protagonist (she sounds like Katniss Everdeen in the best ways). Lovely review!


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