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.
First Sentence: Lynn was nine the first time she’d killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink.
I’ve heard a lot of great things about Not A Drop To Drink ever since it was released back then in late September. Most people that I talk to (ahem stalk) in the blogosphere loved it and some even consider the book to be one of the best books they’ve ever read in 2013. While I personally don’t think that Not A Drop To Drink is one of the best books written in 2013 now that I’ve read it, I do agree with other people that Not A Drop To Drink is indeed a great book. If anything, Not A Drop To Drink is a truly unique dystopian, which is much more than I can say towards other dystopians these days.
There is no doubt that the world-building is an important element to dystopian books. Without any world-building, a dystopian might as well not be a dystopian since what makes a book a dystopian the first place is the kind of society the book is set in. When I began reading Not A Drop To Drink, I was worried about it because it didn’t explain anything about the world except for the disease part of it. Not A Drop To Drink never explained how the world came to be when I started it: why the people were living like this, what had happened to all the governments, etc. To my relief, the world-building was explained towards the second half of the book. The world-building was simple, but at the same time, it explained everything that you need to know about the world the characters live in.
“But things are still the same,” Stebbs said, an edge on his voice that usually wasn’t there. “And all everyone is trying to do is survive.” (158)
The main character of Not A Drop To Drink, Lynn, goes through so much character development that I nearly didn’t recognize her at the end of the book. When we first meet Lynn, she was a tough girl who shoots first and asks questions later (not that it’ll do the dead person any good). All Lynn cared about was herself and her mother and for them both to survive while guiding their precious pond. However, as I read on, Lynn slowly grew a heart and started considering other people’s feelings. She started not only fighting for herself, but fought for other people as well.
Mindy McGinnis manage to constantly shock me with unpredictable plot twists that I did not see coming. In fact, those plot twists shocked me so much that I was still reeling from the effects of the plot twist two or three pages after the actual plot twist had happened. It took me awhile to register the actual plot twist in my mind because I absolutely refuse to accept that a particular event had really happened. In fact, I had to read some parts of the page again because I was pretty sure I read it wrong the first time. Not A Drop To Drink had me in the constant state of denial – no, that person did not really die and no, I absolutely refuse to believe that things can end up this way.
“I’m sorry to be doing this one alone,” she said. “I’m sorry it’s yours.” (305)
Mindy McGinnis is also not afraid to scare you into running off and avoid reading her book or pull any punches. There was this one particular scene that was so creepy and so raw that I just wanted to slam the book shut and hide from it for hours. Okay, not hours, but you get what I mean. I just shudder when I think of reading that scene again and the worst part is, it’s not a scene that’s supposed to scare me really bad. (Hint: it’s a foot scene. Wait until you read it guys; if you don’t think your feet is scary as of now, you will once you get to read Not A Drop To Drink.) Mindy McGinnis is not afraid of using gross imagery and creeping you out. So many characters also gets killed left and right that I just wanted to scream “noooo, stop it!”, hop into the book (which I will probably regret doing since who wants to live in a world without water?), and hug all the main characters.
“Cha-Cha.” Her tiny voice barely escaped her mouth before evaporating in the cold afternoon air. “You killed Cha-Cha.” (72)
The scariest thing about Not A Drop To Drink is that all the events that had happened in the book can really happen one day. We can suddenly run out of water and BOOM! real life dystopian novel. Unlike Lynn, I’m not lucky enough to own any rifles or know how purified water looks like so I’ll probably be one of the first ones to get killed. Sad, but true.
Overall, I highly recommend Not A Drop To Drink. Not A Drop To Drink is not a book to be taken lightly – it is raw, will tug on all your heartstrings, and will leave you a bit sad and wistful, knowing how cruel the world can really be sometimes.