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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TBR Tuesday + Excerpt: The Drowned Cities

TBR Tuesday: Showcasing all the books that are currently staring at you from your "Why aren't you reading me?" pile....

On my TBR

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
439 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Soldier boys emerged from the darkness. Guns gleamed dully. Bullet bandoliers and scars draped their bare chests. Ugly brands scored their faces. She knew why these soldier boys had come. She knew what they sought, and she knew, too, that if they found it, her best friend would surely die.

In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.

This thrilling companion to Paolo Bacigalupi's highly acclaimed Ship Breaker is a haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

This one just recently found a home on my shelves, so it's not like it's been staring at my from my pile for long. But since today is the release AND since I'll be having a giveaway
of it, I thought it would make for a good TBR post, with the added bonus of a quick excerpt!
Hope you enjoy the excerpt (I know I did), and make sure to stop by and enter to win a copy here!

Chains clanked in the darkness of the holding cells.
The reek of urine from the latrines and the miasma of sweat and fear with the sweet stench of rotting straw.  Water dripped, trickling down ancient marblework, blackening what was once fine with mosses and algae.
Humidity and heat. The whiff of the sea, far off, a cruel tormenting scent that told the prisoners they would never taste freedom again. Sometimes a prisoner would call out, praying, a Deep Water Christian or a Rust Saint devotee, but mostly the prisoners waited in silence, saving their energy.
A rattling from the outer gates told them someone was coming. The tramp of many feet.
A few prisoners looked up, surprised. There was no stamping of the crowd, no soldiers shouting for bloodsport coming from above. And yet the prison gate was being opened. A puzzle. They waited, hoping the puzzle wouldn’t touch them. Hoping that they might survive another day.
The guards came as a group, using one another for their courage, urging each other forward, jostling their way down the cramped passageway to the last rusty cell. A few had pistols. One carried a stun stick, sparking and
cracking, the tool of a trainer, even though he had none of its mastery.
All of them carried the reek of terror.
The keymaster peered through the bars. Just another dim sweltering lockup, straw strewn and molding, but in the far corner, something else. A huge shadow, puddled.
“Get up, dogface,” the keymaster said. “You’re wanted.”
No response came from the mountain of shadow.
“Get up!”
But still there was no response. In the neighboring cell, someone coughed wetly, a sound heavy with tuberculosis. One of the guards muttered, “It’s dead. Finally. Has to be.”
“No. These things never die.”  The keymaster pulled his baton out and rattled it against the iron bars. “Get up now, or it will be worse for you. We’ll use the electricity. See how you like that.”
The mounded shadow showed no sign of hearing. No sign of life. They waited. Minutes passed. More minutes.
Finally, another of the guards said, “It’s not breathing. Not a bit.”
“It’s done for,” agreed another. “The panthers did the job.”
“Took long enough.”
“I lost a hundred red chinese on that. When the Colonel said it would go up against six swamp panthers…” the guard shook his head ruefully. “Should have been easy money.”
“You never seen these monsters fight up north, on the border.”
“If I had, I would’ve bet on the dogface.”
They all stared at the dead mass. “Well, it’s maggot meat now,” the first guard said. “The Colonel won’t be happy to hear it. Give me the keys.”
“No,” the keymaster rasped. “Don’t believe it. Dogfaces are demon spawn. The beginning of the cleansing. Saint Olmos saw them coming. They won’t die until the final flood.”
“Just give me the keys, old man.”
“Don’t go near it.”
The guard looked at him with disgust. “It’s no demon. Just meat and bone, same as us, even if it is an augment. You tear it up, you shoot it enough, it dies. It’s no more immortal than the warboys who fight for the Army of God. Get the Harvesters down here. See if they want its organs. We can sell the blood, at
least. Augments have clean blood.”
He jammed the key into the lock. Reinforced steel squealed aside, an entire grate specially designed to hold the monster. And then, a second set of locks for the original rusting bars that had been good enough for a man, but not enough to hold this terrifying mix of science and war.
The door scraped back.
The guard started for the corpse. Despite himself, he felt his skin prickling with fear. Even dead, the creature harbored momentous terror. The guard had seen those massive fists crush a man’s skull into blood and bone
fragments. He’s seen the monster leap twenty feet to sink fangs into a panther’s jugular.
In death, it had curled in on itself, but still it was huge. In life, it had been a giant, towering over all, but its size hadn’t been what made it deadly. The blood of a dozen predators pumped in its veins, a DNA cocktail of killing—tiger and dog and hyena, and Fates knew what else. A perfect creature, designed from the blood up to hunt and war and kill.
Though it had walked like a man, when it bared its teeth, tiger fangs showed, and when it pricked up its ears, a jackal’s ears listened, and when it sniffed the air, a bloodhound’s nose scented. The soldier had seen it fight in the ring enough times to know that he would rather face a dozen men with machetes rather than this hurricane of slaughter.
The guard stood over it for a long time, looking at it. Not a breath. No hint of movement or life. Where the dogface had once been strong and vital and deadly, it was now nothing but meat for the Harvesters.
Dead at last.
He knelt and ran his hand through the monster’s short fur. “Pity. You were a money-maker.  Would have liked to see you fight the coywolv we was lining up. Would have made good ring.”
A golden eye flared in the darkness, full of malevolence.
“A pity, indeed,” the monster growled.
“Get out!” the keymaster shouted, but it was too late.  

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