A dystopian school of hard knocks..
Genre: YA, Dystopia
No. of pages: 309
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.
Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.
Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.
But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
From the blurb and some of the reviews I’d read, I expected ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ to be much more gruesome. There is plenty of tragedy and realistic hard living, but I felt it missed having a darker, grittier tone which would have added credence to the story. But this novel is a humdinger, and having grown up in the Centralian Desert, and now residing on a remote mountain top where I have to source my own water from rainfall, many of the elements of this novel rang true. Thank goodness I don’t have to fight off poachers and wildlife! A frank depiction of what could be very possible in the near future.
Our protagonist Lynn reminds me of Kantiss in the sense that she’s brought up in a difficult world of paranoia and survival, where hard choices are commonplace – and because of that she is almost emotionless and calculating in her outlook towards fellow man. A silent huntress. A warrior. And while I enjoyed reading this story and appreciated her hard-knocks attitude, there was something missing about her character to make me feel like she was a fully realised person.
Mother was too hard and cold for me to truly appreciate as a person, maybe she was suffering a mental illness? But her Eagle Scout ways were invaluable in the girls’ survival against man and nature. But was it all that necessary?
Eli, placed as Lynn’s love interest, while cute, hunky, and well-mannered, I didn’t really buy this paring. Maybe it was the writing style, I felt a little disconnected with ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ it could have really dragged out all the feels – the desperation, the isolation, and the need for human connection. But those were left dry… and so too was this novel (pun intended).
Eli’s sister, Lucy was the much needed grounding and softness that ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ lacked and was a genius inclusion. I would have liked to read more about her journey, have her involved more in the main plot and her own story arc. Maybe we’ll see in the sequel ‘In a Handful of Dust.’
Neighbour Stebbs was an interesting character. The wise voice of reason, only I felt he came in much too late in the timeline. I almost felt like his emergence was too convenient and that he should of had a stronger presence in Lynn’s life prior to where the novel started.
It is a great story and I found it highly entertaining with realism and stark landscapes. However, the plot is rather simplistic. The inclusion of a few arcs, maybe a few unexpected twists, and the protagonist failing more would’ve had me more engaged. But only if I’m being picky. Otherwise this is a great, if not bleak, adventure.
‘Not a Drop to Drink’ has easy language and a nice touch with poetry interspersed throughout the narrative to juxtapose some beauty in the confronting situations the cast faces.
I read it in a day, though I felt it dehumanised death, murder, and survival a bit, but a gem of a dystopian that is not hard to imagine as a realistic future. This has also been optioned by Stephenie Meyer’s production company Fickle Fish to get the big screen treatment. So I’m keen to see how this develops.
Recommended for lovers of the genre, or those wanting some light escapism, however not necessarily a book that will wow.
Overall feeling: I think I need to sit down…
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