November 17, 2017

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Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi | SLJ Review

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redstarBACIGALUPI, Paolo. Tool of War. 336p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316220835.

Gr 10 Up –The third entry in his award-winning dystopian series, following Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, tells the story of Tool the “augment,” a genetically engineered “half-man” made up of a cocktail of genetic material—human, dog, tiger. Augments are designed to be the ultimate killing machines while remaining fiercely loyal to his creators. However, once Tool discovers that he can suppress his submissive instincts, he rebels against his creators and splinters off from his augment pack to lead an army of soldier boys—human child soldiers—to capture the Drowned Cities. Tool’s creators find him and wipe out his army, which forces him back into hiding. With the help of a new pack—a band of teen merchant sailors—and old allies, Tool resumes his destructive mission. Bacigalupi proves once again that he is a master of world-building; the world he created in the previous two books is just as desolate, violent, and intriguing in this installment. The tension—from the time Tool’s creators rain fire down upon him in the Drowned Cities, to when Tool finally comes face-to-face with the man who built him—is relentless throughout the narrative, and the lack of primary character development (perhaps a result of expecting readers to have plowed through the first two books) allows for the introduction and development of supporting characters, such as Jones, a junior analyst and young prodigy for Mercier Corporation who is helping track Tool down. The amount of violence and bloodshed makes this more suitable for an older audience. VERDICT A strong, entertaining continuation of Bacigalupi’s postapocalyptic series; teens will be hoping for future installments. Hand to those who devoured the first two books.–Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

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