The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
This is not your run-of-the-mill dystopia. It’s an intense battlefield of survival set in a futuristic America. The story follows two friends, Mahlia and Mouse, through this world as they fight off violent, ruthless soldier boys. Mahlia and Mouse flee to the jungles, only to encounter Tool, a genetically engineered killer, part animal and part human, wounded, dangerous, and hunted by the boy soldiers. The two friends are separated – one captured and one facing horrible decisions about what to do next…and who to save.
In a world ravaged by climate change, disparate warring factions, and unending violence, it’s hard enough to survive, let alone hang onto your own humanity and try to save others. Bacigalupi creates an incredible, if not horrifying, world where he develops heart-wrenching moral dilemmas for his characters to face. And through it all, you’re glued to your seat, unable to tear away from the awfulness of it…hoping for a sliver of light at the end of the chaotic tunnel. A companion to the Printz Award title from 2011, Ship Breaker.