if global warming can't be reversed? In the future world, water will be
the prized commodity, and the haves will do whatever is necessary to
keep it from the have-nots. For Lynn, daily survival depends on only four
things: her, her gun, her mother, and their pond.
Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink. Mother had killed the people who came too close to their pond before, but over the next seven years they fell by Lynn's gun as well, their existence easily wiped out first by a bullet, then by the coyotes before the sun could rise. Death and gunpowder were scents from her childhood, but today the fall breeze brought something less familiar to her rooftop perch, and her nose wrinkled.—Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis (HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books, 2013, p. 1)
- Setting: the future; in a rural area
- Circumstances: Lynn and her mother know that their lives depend on defending the pond and preserving food for the approaching winter. When Lynn's bleak but workable life is shattered, something will have to change. She must weigh everything she knows to be true against her gut instincts; if she makes the wrong choice, she'll be dead.
- Characters: Lynn and her mother; their neighbor, Stebbs; outsiders
- Genre & audience: dystopian; YA with adult cross-over
- The new and different: Unlike other young adult dystopian novels, Not a Drop to Drink has a strong feel of realism. There is no Big Brother government breathing down Lynn's neck, no games or mazes, no one living the life of luxury just around the bend. This world is simply about the hard business of individual survival. The book is more along the lines of adult dystopians—like The Road, for example—than the usual teen fare.
- The same old: (warning, possible spoiler→) What's a teen dystopian without a little romance; it's not totally insta-love, but almost. Fortunately, this does not take away from the overall mood of the story.
- Miscellaneous: I'm not sure McGinnis is planning a long series, but the second book, In a Handful of Dust, was published a few months ago. The new installment takes place about decade after Not a Drop to Drink ends, and I hope to read it soon.
- The author: McGinnis was inspired to write the novel after watching a documentary on what the future could be like if we truly start to run out of fresh water. You can listen to (or read) an NPR story in which McGinnis talks about her book.
- Recommendations: I'm still reading, but I'm in agreement with almost everyone who has reviewed this book: Not a Drop to Drink is well written, bleak, realistic, and gritty (had to use the word, sorry). Despite the target audience, Mindy McGinnis has given us a mature story about an all-too-possible future. Now excuse me while I start digging a well and look for a shotgun.