The Ward features a spunky, tough main character in Ren and her best friend/pseudo sister Aven who is dying. The world is ours but set approximately 100 years in the future where water has overtaken everything. Manhattan as we know it is officially under the sea but how it came to be that way I have no idea. I have no idea because the worldbuilding in this book is really sub-par. I have no idea why everything (is it everywhere?!) is flooded. Global warming would be my guess as it is possible but Frankel doesn't get into specifics. Also, the world is barely described. We know a lot of the ongoings inside Ren's head but nothing she sees is very clear (including the other characters). Like I said, poor worldbuilding. This lack is often felt while the drag racing is ongoing, how the hell are you supposed to picture these races when there is no clear picture of the environment? Needless to say I found the racing tedious, but that may not even have been helped with worldbuilding.
Due to everything being flooded with seawater, fresh water is hard to come by. Fresh water is more for the rich than the lower "classes". However, my question immediately is why is there no desalination process?! It happens every day on this planet now, why not then? There is still technology in this future so why not? See, this could have been answered with decent worldbuilding.
I was not a big fan of the book to begin with but then the author took a dystopian world and shoved a quest for healing/immortality water into it. Suddenly there are characters that have been living for 500 years and plots of death etc etc. *eye roll* Maybe had there been more of a focus on worldbuilding we would have had enough of an interesting world that we wouldn't need to throw in crazy woo woo immortality details. Maybe it is just me, but I didn't feel like a dystopian world (that is possible) goes with a story of immortality.
Also, the main character rubbed me the wrong way when she stated the following about Cleopatra and Mata Hari. "Both sluts who died gruesome deaths. At least they were pretty." WTF? First the slut comment is irritating but there is also clearly a terrible understanding of history if one thinks Cleopatra even qualifies. This irked me enough that I nearly stopped reading, I should have as nothing improved.