Rebecca McCormick. Powered by Blogger.

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Where did I get it? I bought it at Northern YA Lit Fest from one of the stalls. I had already read a chapter sampler that a friend sent me, so I knew I was intrigued by the story so decided to buy it. 

What's it about? It's set in Southern California in a time very like now, when there's a significant drought in California and all the water is turned off. 

Alyssa is watching when the "Tap-Out" happens. She goes to Costco with her mother and brother to stockpile water. It's chaos there, people are panicking and some are leaving the state. Alyssa's uncle decides to go to his girlfriend's in Dove Canyon and wait it out there. Everyone is pretty sure that this will all end soon, that FEMA will come in and help the worst affected, and that the government will sort it out.

But when Alyssa's family lose what little water they had, her parents set off towards the beach, towards one of the new desalination plants, leaving Alyssa in charge of her ten year old brother, Garrett. 

Meanwhile, next door neighbour Kelton has been preparing his whole life for something like this. His parents are survivalists, and have a stockpile of stuff in the house, a safe room, and even a bug-out deep in the woods. They have water, and electricity when that goes off too, but that makes them a target for people in the neighbourhood. Kelton's relationship with his dad is complicated, but Kelton wants to help Alyssa and Garrett and his mum agrees. The family are waiting for Kelton's brother Brady to arrive before they all set off to the bug-out. 

Kelton and Alyssa and Garrett set off for the beach to try to find Alyssa's parents, and what they find there shocks them. Several things happen meaning that five of them set off towards the bug-out, but I won't give any more plot points away. 

Interspersed with the points of view of the main characters are little snapshots showing us what some other people are doing, what the news is saying, what the government is doing, stuff like that. This is a really accomplished book and I really liked it. It's easy to imagine - what would you do if water stopped coming out of the taps? - and terrifyingly close to reality. I kept thinking it just couldn't end well, and I really liked the ending. It's a classic dystopia in some ways - the adults are got rid of meaning that the teens have to rely on themselves and no one else. 

The effects of thirst are really well described, the desperate lengths people went to to try to get water, and the government response all felt really real. It felt similar to what happened to a lot of people after Hurricane Katrina when the government failed to help people adequately. I liked how each of the main characters reacted differently and I liked how political this book is - overconsumption of water is an issue and states like California have had record droughts. I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman a long time ago, way before I started this blog, and really liked it, but I think this book is even better. It's an almost perfect YA disaster book. 

I also really liked how guns were part of the story in a very political way, which is also really suitable for a current audience. I also found myself really really thirsty while reading this, while vowing to do better about wasting water!

What age range is it for? 14+ due to violence

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes Alyssa and Garrett are mixed race. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not in the beginning, but throughout the book, yes. I will warn for violence, for death, and for trauma. 

Is there any sex stuff? There's a couple of examples of sexual assault

Are drugs mentioned or used? There's a couple of mentions of marijuana but I think that's all. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, lots. Some of it is violent, trigger warnings apply.

Are there swear words? Maybe a couple if any. 

What criticisms do I have? Honestly, I really only have one big one, and it's about the lack of discussion of other drinks. Okay, I get that the taps don't work which affects drinking water and cooking, but no one seems to have any stockpiles of, like, Coke? It's weird. Right at the beginning Garrett drinks a Gatorade but after that no one seems to think about any other kind of drink? I didn't get it, because it would still hydrate you, you could still use other drinks. There's bits where they're looking for water sources, but don't seem to ever run across half a bottle of lemonade which might help? I thought it was quite strange. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. It's really interesting and good. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? All the books that I bought at the lit fest are hanging around in my bedroom and it was top of the pile! 

What other books is it like? It really reminded me of Gone by Michael Grant, which has a similar setting and has no adults in it. 

How many stars? Five out of five. 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'll definitely keep it!

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