Book Review: Drowned

Published By:  Harlequin Teen, Harlequin Teen Australia
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy, Dystopian

As the old saying goes, time and tide wait for no one, and that is certainly the case in the world created by Nichola Reilly (the pen name of Cyn Balog) in Drowned. Time is measured by the tide, as are the seasons. Lives are lost to the ever encroaching waters or the vicious scribblers and there is no chance of escape. This is the reality that Coe has known all her life. 

 Tides is a small island. If you stand on one shore at low tide, you can see the ocean on the opposite side of the island. At high tide, the island disappears completely and all that’s left is the raised platform where the island’s inhabitants wait out the danger, and the castle tower where the royal family shelter. The platform is small and crowded, and positions are decided by your usefulness to society. Coe is still a child and so is sheltered at the centre of the platform, but soon she will reach her 16th Hard Season and will be classed as an adult. Her physical deformities and job as craphouse keeper place her on the lowest level, and so she resigns herself to a spot on the edge of the platform and a predictably short life. 

That is, until she is singled out by the princess, Star, and is given a job that many on the island would happily kill for. Being associated with the royal family is not enough to keep her safe, however, especially in the face of growing unrest among the ordinary people of Tides. Coe’s childhood friend, Tiam, is also approaching adulthood, and it seems that the royals have plans for him, too.

Nichola Reilly has created a compelling post-apocalyptic tale of survival against the odds. Coe is by no means your average YA lead. Disfigured and permanently disabled by an accident in early childhood, she has had a constant fight for survival. Although, like any adolescent girl, she has fantasies of the handsome boy sweeping her off her feet, she is realistic about her prospects. And in a world where nobody dares let themselves care about another person, let alone love them, it’s pointless to even think about romance. But Coe knows more about life before Tides than anyone else. Can she escape the tide?

It’s difficult to say more about this book as so much of the joy for me was coming to it with very little idea of what it was about, and becoming immediately immersed in the world. I spent a full day completely ignoring my husband and children so that I could find out what happened next. I found the ending frustrating in a, “What?! No! I need more!” kind of way. The story does have a conclusion (the lack of which is a pet hate of mine), but it leaves you wanting more. I can’t wait for the sequel!

Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival.

Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever.

Is there an escape from the horrific nightmare that their island home has become? Coe must race to find the answers and save the people she cares about, before their world and everything they know is lost to the waters.