Jordana Frankel has crafted a beautifully disturbing dystopian world in The Ward. Ren, the unlikely heroine in a future New York that has been flooded and abandoned by the rest of the nation, is a brusque, hardened orphan who is determined to succeed in the world of roof racing. She is willing to risk her life racing across abandoned roof tops because she knows two things: she is immune to the sickness that sweeps through her ward, and her best friend, Aven, is not.
Although hard to like at times, Ren is determined, and risks her life in every race so that she can earn money to save her “sister”. What others don’t know, though, is that Ren is a mole, secretly working for the “Blues” (the law enforcement who control the city), scouting for “fresh (water that has not been contaminated and polluted, and may be suitable for drinking). When offered a chance to earn more money scouting for fresh, however, Ren doesn’t pass it up, knowing that every dollar she earns will go toward helping Aven feel better.
What Ren doesn’t expect when she begins a race and takes a detour to scout for “fresh” is that she will uncover a tangled web of lies and deception, and will risk the discovery of her own secrets. After Aven is hospitalized, Ren realizes that she must find the solution before time runs out. Because of her unwavering devotion to the only person who has ever cared for her, Ren is willing to sacrifice her freedom and safety in order to uncover the truth about the disease, the city, and the water.
The Ward is a fast paced novel that is engaging and cinematic in tone. Honestly, even though it is hard to like Ren (whose street-wise attitude and rough exterior belie a genuinely compassionate soul), she grows on you, and sucks you into her world with all of its twists and turns. This book is original and gripping – the perfect read for summer!