Friday, April 12, 2019

Dry - Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

Summary: When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review:  It’s been awhile since I’ve read any real post-apocalyptic YA Fic. There are always the fantasy novels that are dealing with societies on complete collapse after some far-in-the-past catastrophic event. And there are lots of books out there with “the chosen one” who is either a queen or needs to defeat the queen or comes from a lower point of society to overthrow those in charge etc., etc., etc. I think you know what I’m talking about. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a good old-fashioned something-realistic-happens-that-causes-a-societal-collapse sort of situation. This is one of those books.

You’d have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the droughts around the world, particularly in California (so it couldn’t be a rock in California). This novel deals with the scenario of the water finally being gone in California and the faucets turning off and people just not having water. It’s YA Fic so of course the parents are somewhat idiots and the kids have to solve all the probs (which, who knows, may be real if it ever happens? Idk). The kids are resourceful and clever, and they do a remarkable job of surviving on their own. They are faced with very real and adult-like situations, and yet, despite all of this, there is just the right combination of peeps in their little band of misfits that they are able to figure it all out and face catastrophes together and tra-la-la.

I know I sound sarcastic, but I’m really not trying to be. I actually enjoyed this book. I like good, snarky teenage characters, and I like ones that combine the right levels of intelligence and street smarts but also obviously have weaknesses. The characters weren’t as well-developed as other YA Fic books I’ve read, but I think part of that is because it is relatively short. I would have liked more character development, especially with some of the main characters who remained a mystery pretty much throughout, and yet played a large part in the story as a whole. This book would lend itself well to doing a companion or sequel novel where it dealt with other players in either the same scenario or even after the catastrophe. It almost seems like if you’re going to spend so little time on your main characters and instead focus on the event, you should give more power to the event and write a companion novel.

Still, it was a really fast, really interesting read. I thought the writing was well-placed and the story good. Sometimes in books I feel like apex situations happen so quickly that it is difficult to figure out what really happened. I don’t know if that’s because the author doesn’t go into enough detail, or glosses over it, or just makes it so short that it’s confusing. That is not the case with this book. I have a clear idea of what happened and even the apex moments were clear. That's a big deal, I think. If your apex moments are muddy and confusing, how the heck can it be an apex?

I think this book did a very good job of making the reader feel the panic and stress of the situation, and the reality of it too (and it definitely helps that this reality doesn’t feel all that far-fetched). The situations encountered in this story were not all completely believable or realistic, and sometimes things worked out really well and the realities were stretched, but that’s okay. Everyone wants to be able to survive a real-life catastrophe and if that means we have to live it out in the novel, that’s ok.

If you’re into realistic post-apocalyptic YA Fic, I think you’d really enjoy this book. I did. It was a really good distraction that didn’t take a long time or a big mental commitment to deal with. It had a good amount of peril and the story was compelling.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book has some language.

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