In a dystopian future where gangs of child soldiers and genetically engineered killers hunt and kill for sport, how can a pair of teenage friends survive, let alone live a normal life? This dark, jungle-filled world is where apprentice doctor Mahlia under the guardianship of the kind Dr Mahfouz struggles against prejudice and the dangers that lie around her. When a militia in pursuit of the most deadly creature to ever walk the earth crosses their path, Mahlia is forced to choose between the pacifism of her mentor and the path of violence, which ultimately can only lead to more death and hurt.
The story is told from the point of view of three other characters. Ocho is a member of a militia which fights for power in a country that has long been abandoned by peacekeepers, while Mouse is the nervous friend of Mahlia who has lost all his loved ones to the war which engulfs them. Most interesting of all these characters may be Tool – part dog, part human – who has been trained to thrive in this brutal atmosphere of destruction.
Allowing the story to develop from a number of different perspectives helps the reader to better understand the brutal reality of this world. However, one complaint is that we do not learn more about Dr Mahfouz who still clings to his faith in humanity even as all those around him choose to abandon peace and cooperation for war.
The Drowned Cities provide a snapshot of what may become of us all if we continue to destroy the planet and ignore the needs of those around us.