Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Dry by Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman
on October 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble
he drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbours and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
Dry is a dystopian ecological disaster story based a little in fact and a lot in what if. It loosely reminds me of one of those blockbuster movies like 2012 and San Andreas where some things are just a smidge too over the top but you let it go because that is the movie you knew you came to see.
As usual, Shusterman’s writing is really great. The pacing is good and I was engaged the entire book. It was hard to put down and I finished it in record time. I did have to suspend some disbelief for the initial situation of the story but the parts about human nature in a crisis situation seemed spot on.
The ‘Tap Out’ has come to California. Water rationing and fines for overuse haven’t worked and after water negotiations with Arizona break down the water is just turned off with no warning, leaving the residents in multiple counties in California with no water to their homes. Society starts to break down almost immediately.
The reader follows a group of people through shifting PoVs through this crisis. Alyssa is the typical girl next door who is like most people. She has the normal family life with parents, a little brother and dog. Kelton is the neighbor whose dad has been planning for catastrophe forever so this crisis is like Christmas to them. Most of the story is set around these two characters but we pick up more stragglers along the way including street wise Jacqui and future fortune 500 company CEO Henry.
This cast of characters compliment each other well in that they are all pretty different but in this new crisis each brings something into the survival game. On a general day, they would pass each other by with no interaction, but desperate times makes for strange bedfellows.
The struggle was intense and I felt desperate for the characters as one thing after another goes wrong for them and they are driven farther down the rabbit hole of humanity to see what they would do to save the people they are with. Hard choices will be made and there is a reason survival of the fittest is a saying.
I debated on how to rate this because the writing is really great overall but there are plot holes. Or things just glossed over. Like the initial set up and premise of the Tap Out was really unbelievable to me. I could take a global catastrophe but to have it completely isolated to just this area for the reasons given was a little bit of a stretch.
Don’t get me wrong, this made me want to make sure I have a month’s supply of water at my house and a disaster readiness plan ready to go. It was a bit scary when reading because while I didn’t buy into the reasons for the Tap Out that didn’t mean I questioned society’s response. I’m just not sure some of the other survival tactics were explored. So many canned goods would have had water in them, fruits also are a good source of the water you need for a day. There are some great out of the box thinking things going on but I thought some true opportunities were missed.
Still like all of Neal Shusterman’s (I haven’t read Jarrod Shusterman before) books it makes me think about people and what I would do in the same situation. I like the social interactions that are created with this writing and the exploration of various situations through the Tap Out. It is a book that makes me think and want to plan ahead a little in case of an emergency.
Overall: Engaging un-put-down-able writing with some room for growth on a few things I just couldn’t buy into.
For example, winning the affection of a girl is a lot like shooting a deer. It’s pretty important that you approach slowly and with caution—and preferably from a posterior angle, where they have little to no vision. Women, like deer, can be scared away by a strong musk, which is why it’s important to always wear deodorant. Dressing in camouflage doesn’t hurt either, because in my experience, girl find camouflage really cool. But all of that aside, I think the most important aspect of obtaining a girl of the opposite sex is knowing when to pull the trigger. Metaphorically, that is. You gotta make your move when it feels right, or else you’ll come off as creepy. This I know from experience, too.
The secret to a successful group collaboration is a dynamic, responsive leader, and the key to being a good leader is acute observation and subtle manipulation—so subtle that no one knows they’re being manipulated. Come to think of it, that’s also the key to a successful government.