After reading the sampler of this book ages ago, I finally got round to reading the whole of Dry by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman, and it was great!
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.
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.
The premise of this book was really interesting, as I both love reading dystopias (and although this strictly isn’t one, the key themes are still there) and the climate crisis is something we cannot ignore. After reading the sampler, I was eager to see what would happen next in this world.
I was surprised to see that this book had multiple POV (the sampler only had one as it was only one chapter long), and while I can see the benefits that it had on creating a more three dimensional approach to the situation, it did leave me being unable to connect quite as strongly to the characters, as key moments for one person, were told from the point of view of another. This meant that some of the emotional high points in a character’s story was left to the retelling of someone else. Whilst I admit that I have a stronger connection with all the characters as a whole than if we just followed one character, I would have prefered that deeper connection with just one, as it would make the moral of the story more impactful.
I did like the range of skills that the characters had, and how each was nowhere near equipt enough to deal with the situation on their own, and even as a group they struggled continuously. My only missive was that no adult was as competent as they were. While I appreciate that this is a young adult novel, with teenage protagonists, it would have been nice to see some adults along the way with some common sense. I acknowledge that it would be unreasonable, given the age range and genre for the adults to save the day, but given how useless they were, it left me rather concerned and feeling a little bit disillusioned.
Whilst the struggles in this book were very well depicted, I couldn’t help but feel that the ending was a bit rushed. The saving of our heros was partly done by things outside of their control, and the aftermath was entirely skipped over. I could concede the outside influence that saves their lives, as it is an idea that was explored throughout the book, but I would have prefered a sequel that deals with the aftermath. A lot would have happened in the year between the end of the story and the epilogue, and I think that that is just as an important part of the cautionary tale in this story as the disaster that features in this book.
I give this book 4 stars.