Release Date: September 24, 2013
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
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….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.
A fascinating, gut-wrenching story of survival centered around a young girl who lives in a world where water is scarce and those who are lucky enough to have it must be willing to do anything to keep it.
When I first heard about McGinnis' debut, the word "dystopia" was mentioned, so stories like The Hunger Games, Stung, and Divergent came to mind. But even though I found this story equaling as captivating, there are very few similarities. This story is strictly one of survival and often focuses on Lynn's day to day tasks. Also, the world building is very straightforward and there are no plans to take down governments or right what is wrong with the declining water conditions. It's more character driven and focuses on the changes being made in Lynn's life.
Lynn is a protagonist that you can't help but to admire for her survival skills, discipline, and bravery. She spends her days hauling water, gathering food, collecting wood, keeping watch on the roof, or any other task that contributes to the survival of herself and her mother. And she does this with no complaints. She's not whiny, she doesn't resent having to do the work, and she's not spending her nights on the rooftop daydreaming about another life. Her lifestyle has left her hardened with very few soft edges and being practical is more important than being emotional.
Because Lynn and her mother have to protect their pond or risk their water being stolen, they don't venture far from home. In fact, the only other person that Lynn has ever made contact with is Stebbs, their only neighbor. So Lynn knows very little about the outside world and what limited things she does learn are through her mother and from reading books.
As the story progresses, circumstances begin to change and when Lynn encounters strangers by the stream, the life that she has become so accustomed to slowly begins to unravel. Despite what she has always been taught, she is forced to realize that not everyone wants to hurt her or take what isn't theirs. Most importantly, she learns that it isn't wrong to care about others or to think of someone other than herself.
Even though this story is categorized as young adult, McGinnis doesn't hold back and doesn't try to sugar coat the reality of surviving in harsh conditions. You're not often left with a warm and fuzzy feeling or any surety that the ending will close with a happily ever after. But you become so wrapped up in the characters and the lives that they are living that you simply can't stop reading.
Not A Drop to Drink is a novel I would highly recommend to any fans of dystopia and stories of survival. If you're looking for a light, easy young adult read, then this definitely isn't for you.