Monday, October 07, 2013

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnisNot a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 24th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

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 wonโ€™t stop until they get itโ€ฆ.

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

This is a story about survival in a harsh, harsh world. It’s not an action packed dystopian. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. It’s the journey of a young girl who’s discovering the ugly truths, but also the beautiful roots, of humanity.

Lynn has been raised inside a house with only her mother by her side. She was raised hard, and she was raised cold. Everybody is the enemy. Their pond is their only life source, so they must guard it with their lives. This is a world where drinkable water is extremely rare and not obtained without exhausting effort. Lynn and her mother have been living a hard, merciless life. I could immediately feel the weight they held on their shoulders. The hard edges they had to build around themselves to survive is amazingly sad, and the loneliness becomes a palpable entity around them. It’s a truly desolate life in an ugly world. One that is unfortunately all too realistic, which is what makes these types of stories the most tragic. From the animal attacks to the scavengers, to Lynn’s character after facing what one should never have to, it brims with shocking truths. This is the kind of dystopian that makes you feel ashamed for ever complaining about trivial things.

It’s not a story with a heart-pounding plot, however. Some may find it too slow for their taste. Personally, I found the gradual pace was what gave it its power. It’s really about growing up with the odds stacked against you. Every day, Lynn faces fears of running out of water, of being attacked by animals, of not being able to defend her house – or even herself – from heartless scavengers. The atmosphere brims with a constant threat. This is what gave the book its life. I did expect more to actually happen overall, but my full attention was glued to these pages regardless.

Inside this picturesque setting are remarkable characters who walk its plains. Lynn, our main character, was raised to have a thick skin. She can shoot an intruder without a second glance, without knowing if he even deserved the bullet for that matter. And don’t think she’s broken up about taking someone else’s life, either. To her, these people are threats that must be eliminated. They are the enemy, period. This made her sort of impenetrable, yet I still found myself connecting to her on many levels. I could feel her strength, her need to survive above everything else. This was ingrained in her character and it made me just as sad as it made me proud. Early on in the book her life changes quite abruptly, but this was the beginning of a small crack in this shell of hers. She soon meets other survivors who become big players in this novel. For the first time in her life, Lynn finds friendship, love, and the courage to share a piece of her heart with others. I found this change in her admirable, and so, so deserving. She really has such a huge heart. She just needed someone. Stebbs is the father figure who’s the voice of reason and also highly capable. Lucy is a little girl who you can’t help but fall in love with. Eli is the first boy to make her blush. His presence gives the book a mild dose of romance that is barely there, just enough to offer the romantic element this story needed.

Arrestingly atmospheric with an unflinching writing style, Not a Drop to Drink is one dystopian that stands out among many. It’s a cruel and greedy world we live in, Lynn is seeing it at its worst.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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19 Responses to “Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis”

  1. Maya @ The Book Nook

    I’ve loved the premise of Not a Drop to Drink since I first heard about it a while back, but this is actually the first review I’ve seen. It sounds really good and I like that it’s less action-packed than most dystopias, and how it’s very survival-based. I’ll definitely be picking this up if I see it around. Thanks for the review!

  2. Candace

    I’ve been hearing good things about this one. I think that in some ways it would be hard to read, but it sounds pretty powerful. I’m not yet sure if I’ll read it, but I think one day I might give it a try.

  3. Kat (AussieZombie)

    Ah I’ve been waiting to see what you thought of this one. I loved that McGinnis ignored all the dystopian/apocalyptic cliches and made it more thoughtful and brave. I had a hard time putting this one down!

  4. ShootingStarsMag

    I’ve heard good things about this story. I’m glad to hear that you connected well with the overall premise and main characters, especially since it’s a bit slow-moving.

  5. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I started this one then put it down…it was a great start but, yeah, a little slow and I was in a reading slump so you know how that goes. Definitely going to pick it back up, though!

  6. Aman

    Ah, I can’t wait to read this book!!! I’ve only heard good things about it and that’s a bonus in itself. I’m usually a very impatient reader and slow pace reads do bother me, but I like how this one has little life/survival lessons added randomly and that alone would make me want to stick with the story. Fantastic review, Giselle ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Haley @ YA-Aholic

    Wow, seriously epic review Giselle!!I had no desire to read this before, but your review has completely changed my mind!!! I think I shall move this way up my tbr pile. Thanks for the recommendation hun! (:

  8. kimbacaffeinate

    I do not mind a slow pace if the world and character are powerful. The thought of no water freaks me out though..I mean how would I make my coffee!?! Lovely review Giselle ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Pili

    I absolutely loved this book! The slow pace really worked for me and I completely adored the characters and how gradually Lynn learns to not just survive to try and live life with others.
    Great review, Giselle!!

  10. Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books

    You know, I’m not quite sure I’ve read a dystopian book that really is atmospheric more than anything else. Based on your review of this book here, it makes a lot of sense to try to write a dystopian like that, though. Sometimes I do think solidly good stories are overlooked because they’re not action-packed enough, so that’s good to know that is not the case here. I am definitely intrigued about reading this one. Lovely review, Giselle!