You know that phenomena when your friend gets a new car, or you see a car you like, and then suddenly you start seeing that type of car everywhere? Well I recently wrote a book review about being pleasantly surprised to read an apocalyptic book with a novel theme, water, in Not A Drop To Drink, soon after I stumbled across another book with a shortage of water theme, The Water Wars, by Cameron Stracher.
The polar ice caps have melted and rivers have dried up (shades of global warming anyone?)and what is left of the planet’s water has been commandeered by governments and private companies. The U.S. is no longer the United States; instead it has been broken into separate fiefdoms each with their own governments. Pure water is rarer than gold and desalinated water is rationed to citizens who are always thirsty.
Teen siblings Vera and Will’s lives are irrevocably changed when Vera meets Kai, a mysterious and wealthy boy she spots drinking a cup of water in the road who turns the cup over and lets the precious liquid spill onto the ground, an act that is considered a crime in these troubled times. Vera’s own mother is terribly ill and fragile as not only is there not enough water to drink, but what they get may be causing susceptible people to get sick.
So good looking Kai is a welcome diversion for Vera, and soon she befriends the stranger in town who is also quickly adopted by her brother and father too. One day Kai shows Vera a secret and the following day he has vanished, his dead bodyguard proving that his disappearance was not by choice, so Vera and Will set out to try to save their friend. Their mission leads them onto an odyssey where they will encounter water pirates, eco terrorists groups and the faceless corporations who profit from water.
While I am intrigued about water as the theme of an apocalyptic future, there is a vast difference between The Water Wars and Not a Drop To Drink; the latter focuses much more on characterization, and less on action. The Water Wars is light on characterization and the focus is really the adventure story of the siblings punctuated by constant violence and action. The dialogue is very one dimensional and the plot stains credibility. It’s an entertaining enough book and if I hadn’t read Not a Drop to Drink first, I may have been less critical, but Mindy McGinnis’s book is like a master writing class, with beautiful pacing and fully developed characters who transcend any action scenes in the story, with their depths. Still, I will hand it to Cameron Stracher for writing a story that always draws attention to another environmental issue we should be taking steps to avoid in our future.