By Jordana Frankel
April 30, 2013
Ages 12 and up
Katherine Tegen Books
Sometimes you hold such high expectations for a book, only to be let down when you finally have it in your hands. Such is the case with THE WARD by Jordana Frankel. Look at the cover. Now read the book description. Don’t both of these items combined give you hope that the contents will be equally as amazing? In this case, not so much. THE WARD is one instance when a story has potential, but the execution untimately drags it down.
THE WARD started off on a good note alright, but once you get past the (oddly placed) epilogue, the interest level in both the MC and her world begins to fizzle. (Seriously, why couldn’t the epilogue have just been “chapter one”? Is it that the time jump would have been too jarring to the reader? Because it was still jarring, regardless.) Right off the bat I had this feeling that THE WARD was something like an apocalyptic Annie or Oliver Twist, thanks to the introduction of the two main characters, Ren and her “sister” Aven. Initially, I liked them both very much. But the only character to retain my interest was Aven. She was just so DARNED cute and quirky! Too bad she had to up and get “sick” all of a sudden… Then be relegated to that of a minor character. Can’t really say the same about Ren, who lost her Annie/Oliver personality and became just plain confusing. (Was she a Southerner? A Yankee? From the early 20th century Britain? Her dialogue was literally all. Over. The. Place.)
A whole onslaught of characters are introduced throughout the story and I felt a connection to not a single one of them. That goes for the world, too, which was just as confusing when it comes to its technology and it is with its overall descriptions. I can tell that it is a tyrannic society in which Ren lives – that much is true especially by the time you finally come to the end of the book. But just how much is restricted from the common man (or even lower than the common man, considering Ren and her “sister” are orphans) in this world is unbelievable. Especially when certain technologies are so readily available. Perhaps my mind was drowning under the many descriptions of Ren’s races and not enough explanation as to why and how the world came to be as it is. I am a fan of racing, but the amount of it contained within THE WARD was overload even for me. I was quite literally drowning in it. (Pun intended.)
And of course there has to be a love triangle… Well, sort of. Romance is there, but THE WARD is so boggled down with racing that the romance is instantly forgettable, much like the characters, and the world… Honestly, I was ready for the book to be over at about the halfway point. But seeing as it was my airplane read during a long trip and I had a few hours to spare, I stuck it through.
At this point I am unsure whether or not I will pick up the final book in this two-part series, since I am still getting over my initial disappointment with THE WARD. Perhaps I will reconsider when I have had more time to absorb the blow to my extremely high expectations. But for now, THE WARD is not at the top of my list of recommended dystopians.
BUT: If your expectations are not so high as mine and you like stories about orphans “beating the system”, you may want to give this one a try. Just be sure to check it out from the library first.