Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher/Year: Simon & Shuster Publishing 11/23/18
Length: 400 Pages
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.
The 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; neighbors 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.
I needed a change of pace for a bit and we all know that i’m a huge fan of dystopia, post-apocolyptic etc. so this fell right into my sweet spot. For those of you who follow what i’m reading on Goodreads, you’ll see that this has taken me FAR too long to read and that’s not a result of the book itself, but just that i haven’t been able to focus. This week though, i turned the corner and really invested my time in reading this story and i’m happy that i did.
It’s interesting how reading stories like this hit so close to home, especially since in this case especially it’s based on a scenario that’s so real and quite likely to happen if we don’t do something about consumption management now.
We find ourselves in Southern California, where the water/drought situation is so bad that neighboring states are now closing off waterways to Cali because those states are desperate as well. No one truly knows what the impact of all this will be but we quickly learn that water really is the one thing that keeps people sane and alive and without it, it’s an eat or be eaten mentality for society.
The nice way that this story is written is that we have chapters that alternate through our character’s POVs. not just two main characters, but essentially everyone that we meet. I personally enjoyed this because this is a situation that impacts different people in unique ways and seeing how it can either tear people apart or bring them together based on what they are living and feeling brings much more depth to the story.
Add to that, a variety of adjacent scenes that are happening throughout the similar surrounding areas for people who aren’t connected to our mains, and we get a really detailed and complex picture of what’s going on.
I really enjoyed how our main characters are all teens and maybe younger than teens, and even though they are faced with a situation that typically forces them to grow up quickly, they still remain acting as ‘kids’. We see some take leader roles etc, but they still act, talk and seem like kids and that’s refreshing. There are a few who take on personas that are not themselves and that comes to bite them in the end, but i think that it’s all realistic and natural.
There’s a great flow to this story – we see the initial shock and disbelief to what’s happening in the state, even though everyone knew that water was running scarce and that rationing wasn’t working. I feel like if/when this happens in reality, the exact same reactions will happen and things will sadly play out in a similar way. No one believes that things like this will happen to them, and no one prepares. (except for that one weird family down the street).
There are moments when we have hope – knowing that there is someone with survival skills around, knowing that there’s a Plan B to keep us moving towards. then there are moments of dispair when parents go missing, when the adults rebel and when they take for granted the fact that kids are more innocent and can just get things done. There’s the arc of fear and desperation when disease becomes widespread, when government doesn’t help, when hope is lost because a series of events happen to throw them off course.
The roller coaster in this story is wild and i think that if you take the time to enjoy this story – you’ll agree with that notion. I don’t know that i loved the way that this story ended – i think that it did part of the plot justice but then it did a bit of a disservice when the closure in some places seemed too easy. That’s just me though – i’m cynical and jaded and sometimes wish that things couldn’t all be wrapped in a pretty bow.
On that note – i really enjoyed this book and i’m glad that i finally just put my head down to finish it. well worth it. Enjoy!