A society built atop a catastrophe-stricken United States of America, a feisty heroine torn between guys, an evil government—stop us if you’ve read this already.
Frankel’s debut posits a scientifically implausible future in which the Wash Out has transformed New York City and New Jersey into the United Metro Islets. Manhattan is several stories underwater—boardwalks, suspension bridges and amphibious vehicles stand in lieu of streets—and under quarantine due to the Blight, a contagious, cancerlike and always fatal disease. Orphaned drag racer Ren is 5 feet of sexy trouble: Under duress, she works for the police state searching for “fresh” (water) and spends her earnings on her Blight-stricken “sister” Aven, whom she met in an orphanage (a relationship much described but never brought to life). When she finds fresh with amazing healing powers, she lands in the middle of a centuries-old battle over Minetta Brook, currently playing out between the governor and ancient Lenape guardians. Ren must fight both sides if she wants to save herself, Aven and the hundreds of sick people in the Ward, all while dreaming about more-than-meets-the-eye Derek and fighting the first hints of attraction to brainy Callum.
The checklist of what makes commercial teen dystopias may be complete here, but the clumsy writing and nonexistent worldbuilding prevent this subpar clone from making a splash. (Dystopian romance. 12-16)