Thursday, 6 March 2014

Book Review: Not A Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis


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….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Not a Drop to Drink created quite a lot of hype when it was released.  I really couldn’t wait to read it but the problem with hype is that it often creates unrealistic expectations that just cannot be met.  My expectations for this book were admittedly high and had this been written in any other way I would have probably not liked it as much as I did.  I read a lot and come across books that are truly original rarely but it is always a nice surprise when it happens.  This is what Not a Drop to Drink was for me, a truly surprising and original book and dares to tread a different path to all the other young adult dystopia’s that have come before it.  It stands up to the expectation surrounding it because when you read it becomes quickly apparent that this is not a re-hash of something you have read before.

Not a Drop to Drink starts with a bang and from there didn’t let up once.  It was interesting and absorbing from page one.  It was brutal and disturbing from beginning to end but I never once felt it had gone too far.  Mindy McGinnis is not afraid to take risks with her plot line and she managed to constantly surprise me with the directions she chose to take her story in.  There was a moment towards the end that really shocked me and I couldn’t quite believe she had done it but it worked and it was needed.

The writing is strong.  There is a sense of isolation and fear that runs through the book.  It was atmospheric and easy to get lost in.  McGinnis builds a strong, well rounded world and the ease of her writing allows you to really get involved with the characters and action.

The characters were really great.  The main character Lynn is likeable, smart and capable.  In some ways she is naïve and vulnerable because she has no understanding of how to interact with people but she is by far the strongest of all the characters in terms of courage and determination.  So many of these post apocalypse novels feature a female character that goes from normal and caring to warrior/freedom fighter.  Not a Drop to Drink did things the other way round which was really refreshing.  Lynn was also great because she didn’t care about her looks, didn’t care what others thought of her or if the boy she liked, liked her back.  She cared about the pond and surviving which was just as it should have been.

Eli is another great character, I guess he would be classed as ‘the love interest’ but that term should be used loosely here.  He brings the personality to the book and is physically and mentally weaker than Lynn but more socially aware.  He is smart, funny and brave in his own way and is a great match for Lynn.

If Lynn is the strength and Eli is the personality it falls to Stebbs to be the heart.  He is a man full of kindness in a world that has forgotten how to be decent.  He is a father figure, partner and friend to Lynn when she desperately needs the support.  It was great to see an adult in a YA book that was a truly great person something that I really wish there was more of in this genre.  Stebbs was by far my favourite character.

Not a Drop to Drink is not a book about war or fighting against a corrupt leadership or government it is a book about survival.  It asks a lot of questions about how far a person is willing to go to survive and if survival is truly worth it if you have to do it alone.  It is about friendship, trust, sacrifice and is packed full of surprises and genuinely tense moments.  Mindy McGinnis has done a great job at creating something different in a severely over worked genre.

4 stars

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Published September 24th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Book, ebook ARC, 320 pages. 

A free copy of this book was provided for review.

Review by Kate Phillips


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