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Did Not Finish – Book Review: The Ward by Jordana Frankel

Jordana Frankel’s The Ward is my first DNF of the year. I was hoping for much more from this debut series.

Book Review: The Ward by Jordana Frankel

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the ward by jordana frankel

Title & Author: The Ward by Jordana Frankel

Genre: YA Fantasy – Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic

Release Date: April 30, 2013

Series: The Ward #2

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

How I Got the Book: ARC via Publisher


“Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre.”

Didn’t Live Up to Its Potential

The Ward had all the markings of a really great post-apocalyptic read:

  • Unique setting, check! New York City under water
  • Interesting characters, check! Ren is a speed racer who navigates the dystopian water world
  • Romance, check! Is an old friend something more or will the a cute scientist win?
  • Mystery/suspense factor, check! Ren acts as an undercover agent for the government, who she discovers is keeping secrets of its own.

But, for me, the watery world of The Ward took a giant belly-flop. For one, the main character Ren on paper is really interesting – she’s a hotshot racer with hidden missions from the government and who has a sick sister who motivates Ren to win. And yet, I never felt a connection with Ren.

She is distant and flat. Her characteristics are written down but not expressed, spoken but not shown.

Then there’s the storyline. The Ward has it’s fair share of twists and turns…465-pages worth. At around page 370, I stopped. If this book had been 100 pages shorter, I think it would have been better.

It’s long without requiring a real reason for it. Also, the book starts 1 a.m. Saturday and ends 6 a.m. Monday. That’s a whole lotta action in 53 hours of “real time.” I just couldn’t buy that.

Plus, the love triangle is over before it even gets started. I was happy with who Ren chose, but the reasons behind her choice kind of left her with only one obvious option. So not really a choice, right?

And the racing is what intrigued me in the first place, but there are actually very few racing scenes described in the book. It’s really more Ren outrunning all her foes, who start to pile up throughout the novel.

I really hate going on forever about books I didn’t like or connect with because I know someone out there does like it. But if you also like the majority of the books I do, then I think you will probably agree.

Other opinions:

  • Average Goodreads rating is 3.70
  • Two Chicks on Books said: “This book was good but, it could have been great!”
  • Jenna Does Books said: “THE WARD is not at the top of my list of recommended dystopians.”
  • Great Imaginations said: “The world-building though is the main reason I rated this one as a 3 star.”


I really wanted to enjoy this book. It had so much potential but just didn’t hit the mark. The Ward was disappointing and not what I was hoping for with such a promising premise.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.