Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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….
Oh wow. Just, wow. The language in this was simply beautiful, I fell right into the story, and so much of it was just utterly believable. What a book to get me out of my slump (I hope)!
Not a Drop to Drink is about a world not too far in the future from our own where clean water is running low and you must pay for it if you live in an overcrowded city with strict population rules – or you can try and make it on your own in the country, with everyone looking out for themselves.
I adored Lynn’s growth over the course of the novel. She starts off as this young, prickly girl-woman who barely understands anything thanks to growing up with only her mother and occasionally their neighbor and then, by the end, she’s grown so much. Yeah, she’s still prickly, but she’s learned about people and opened her heart.
The other characters were also great. All of them fit into the world McGinnis created, all of them had believable reactions to what had happened and what was happening as the novel unfolded, and it was so easy to invest in them. I do wish we had found out what Emma and Green Hat’s background/backstory was, but it made sense that we never did, too.
I can’t talk much about plot without ruining things, and I’m worried that even some of what I wrote about Lynn will ‘spoil’ the story’s unfolding, but suffice it to say that once you start reading you will likely find it hard to stop. The chapters flow into each other and I, at least, was eager to see what new disaster or change would befall Lynn next. I will say that the middle is the slowest part but I didn’t mind when I read it. I think this is because it still showed how survival worked in this new world, even if it seemed so much less dire than the beginning and climax.
Unlike most dystopians, this is about survival with no hint of government nearby – it looms in the background and it features somewhat heavily in some of the other characters’ backstory, but it is not front and center like in most dystopian novels (esp. YA dystopia).
There were only two elements that truly bothered me while reading and I would call both of these minor SPOILERS (although I’ll try to be as vague as possible), so read at your own risk. Okay? Okay. So the first is the epilogue. There was absolutely no warning given before it jumped to years later. And it must have been at least seven given that Lucy’s gone from 5 to old enough to be making time with a guy. Second, how the hell does the town to the south of Lynn’s pond manage their trading? They only have so many men who are around to take payment, and if the payment is constantly sex with a woman, wouldn’t they eventually be unable to get it up or be chafing or something? This might only bother me because I don’t know how a man’s body works, IDK.
All right, spoilers over.
In the end, what matters is that Not a Drop to Drink kept me on the edge of my seat, gripping the book tight, racing through to see what happened next. And then I found out there’s a sequel, and the plot of the sequel makes no sense whatsoever given Lynn’s personality in this book, but whatever, no one’s making me go out and read it. Besides, this review is concerned only with this novel. And this novel was amazing.
4 stars, would recommend to anyone who likes YA dystopia especially since it’s very different from every other YA dystopian novel I’ve read or heard of.