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Drowned

Review

Drowned

Coe lives on the island of Tides, an island that is almost completely covered with water at high tide.  Coe is hated by the majority of the islanders --- she is deformed and scarred and she can't work as well as other islanders can.  Despite this, she occupies a safe spot on the platform that the islanders stay on during high tide, because she is still considered a child.  But Coe lives in fear of the fast-approaching day when she is considered an adult.  She knows that she will have a spot at the end of the platform, a place where she could easily be attacked by a scribbler --- a vicious fish --- or drown in the waves.  

When her life is at its worst, everything changes for Coe.  The king falls ill with no male heir to replace him and it is announced that Tiam --- Coe's friend and the boy she is in love with --- is going to marry the king's daughter, Princess Star, and become the heir.  Coe has also been summoned to the castle --- she is to become the lady-in-waiting of Princess Star for unknown reasons.  And Coe soon realizes that all the royals are hiding secrets --- including one that could save the people of Tides.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about DROWNED was how Coe has the journals of her ancestors.  This gives the reader a glimpse into events long before the start of the novel, but it still leaves some mystery.

DROWNED includes the features of a normal dystopian novel, but some features, such as the setting, are unique. I felt that the author went to a few extreme lengths to make DROWNED stand out, but some of these plot twists led into the standard territory of other genres.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about DROWNED was how Coe has the journals of her ancestors.  This gives the reader a glimpse into events long before the start of the novel, but it still leaves some mystery.  The author may just be using the journal as a quick way to inform the reader, but I think if more historical fragments (not necessarily from the same journal) are placed in the planned sequel, it could help the reader to better understand the sequence of events and generally improve the series.  When I began reading DROWNED, I thought it was more science fiction than fantasy, but some of the events, namely the ending, will allow author Nichola Reilly to explain parts of the novel with supernatural causes in the rest of the series.  I am curious to see if Reilly takes the fantasy or sci-fi route in the sequel, as this could completely change the series' audience.  

Coe is a mostly relatable protagonist, but the only people that she cares about are her missing father, Tiam and Fern.  She never considers the safety or feelings of people outside that group, which I can understand because she is such an outcast and because of the circumstances on the island.  However, I found her unlikeable when she made decisions that put others at risk. Also, so much of the book focuses on her misery and her struggles to survive that the descriptions almost become diluted.

The ending of DROWNED was rather rushed, and there were many plot twists in the final pages, which created a good cliffhanger.  But, the depth of these changes did not really sink in my mind in that short amount of time.  I also think that the characters did not have enough time to react to these changes.  

Despite this, I felt that the secondary characters in DROWNED were generally well developed.  Reilly was also able to provide the reader with characters that have diverse goals, and she encourages the reader to question the morality of the ways characters try to achieve those goals. Overall, DROWNED is a fast YA read that will please fans of the dystopian genre.

Reviewed by Rachel B., Teen Board Member on June 20, 2014

Drowned
by Nichola Reilly

  • Publication Date: June 24, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Teen
  • ISBN-10: 0373211228
  • ISBN-13: 9780373211227