In this post-apocalyptic tale, Mindy McGinnis paints a chilling portrait of the world in the midst of a water shortage, a future where survival revolves around collecting every last drop. Sixteen-year-old Lynne has known nothing but a life of hard work, violence and fear. She has been defending the pond on her land alongside her mother for years, shooting her first stranger at the age of 9. As she and her mother spend days on the roof with their rifles, watching for trespassers, they notice smoke coming from a stream nearby. They know the stream is not reliable and soon strangers will be coming for their pond. With this new danger in the air, Lynne’s mother makes some changes to their usual winter preparations and ultimately loses her life.
As her life is turned upside down, Lynne knows she has no choice but to continue to defend her pond. Soon, though, she makes contact with a distant neighbor who has always been there, but to whom she has never spoken. He convinces her to investigate the people of the stream after the smoke has been gone for several days, and when she does, she meets three desperate strangers, including a 16-year-old boy, Eli; a pregnant woman, and a little girl named Lucy. After Eli convinces Lynne to take Lucy with her to save her life, Lynne herself begins to question everything her mother ever taught her about survival, strangers, and even love.
The premise of Not a Drop to Drink is full of potential, frightening because the possibility of a water shortage in the near future is all too real. It’s a breath of fresh air for anyone who has grown weary of the dystopian genre and is looking for something original. Unfortunately, the book falls short of its potential. The characters are not well developed and seem to do whatever they need to to fit the plot, which leaves the reader lacking an emotional connection to them and their story. The romance seems forced, the pace of the novel is laboring at times, and even the dramatic ending is a little too easy.
Rated: High, for violence. It is a violent world, and the author expects readers to accept the idea of a 9-year-old-girl-turned murderer without a second thought. There are multiple scenes where people are shot to death, a gruesome coyote mauling, and an instance of someone being lit on fire. Additionally, there are multiple references to rape. There is some mild language, and one instance of the teen characters sleeping in bed together, but there is no sex.