Review: Dry

Posted November 7, 2018

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

Review: Dry Dry by Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman
Published by Walker on 4th October 2018
Genres: YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Everyone's going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.

The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it - has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don't panic. But now there is no water left at all.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.

A Wee Summary

There’s a drought in Southern California and, despite efforts to limit the use of water, the taps have run dry. Alyssa (16) and her family find themselves at the centre of the ‘Tap-Out”. When her parents go in search of water and fail to return, Alyssa and her younger brother, Garrett (10) set out to find them.

With the help of their neighbour, Kelton, whose father has been preparing his family for such a disaster for years, they soon realise that the world outside has spiralled into chaos. Now they just need to find a way to survive the dehydration, violence, ‘water-zombies’ and desperation.

My Thoughts

This is such an unsettling read. As we see the increasing effects of climate change, one can’t deny that this Tap-Out scenario could become a reality, even in the most affluent of neighbourhoods.

In Dry, resources are already stretched due to a devastating hurricane. It’s altogether too long before the outside world realises the extent and severity of what has happened in Southern California, and what plans are put in place are insufficient. It makes you wonder just how our infrastructure would cope.

There is much to ponder in this novel. It’s so thought-provoking and I could spend all day discussing issues that this book raises, but let’s talk about the story itself.

The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters. In the case of Dry, I liked this storytelling style. It meant that we could get Kelton’s survivalist perspective (I learned stuff), while also seeing the terrifying situation through the eyes of character who had never anticipated this. Characters who were shocked by the violence and selfishness that the Tap-Out invoked. I like this combination, getting multiple perspectives on the disaster.

I will say though that there were times when I forgot who’s chapter I was reading, I also felt like I didn’t get to know some of the characters as well as I might’ve liked.

Between chapters we are given snapshots, passages about other people in the Tap-Out, to give us a broader picture of the impact across Southern California and local communities. I like these interludes, particularly as their links with the main story become apparent.

As you’ve probably gathered, this is a dark novel. It’s powerful and action-packed but as society becomes more desperate, events become more violent, ruthless and increasingly dark.

I did feel that I would’ve liked more detail in the final section of this book. While I appreciated the conclusion, I was left feeling that I still had some unanswered questions.

I have to say though, that this is a really thought-provoking book that kept me engrossed, turning page after page. Yes it’s fiction, but it contains strong messages, not just about climate change, that many adults could do with reading too, not just a YA audience.