cbr11bingo – Listicle! (Dry is featured on this list of 2018 must-read teen fiction)
Drought isn’t a new phenomenon to Alyssa or anyone else in California, but the ante is upped when one day the taps run dry. Quickly termed the “tap-out” by local news, it doesn’t take long for stores to run out of bottled water and for people to start freaking out. In this environmental disaster book, Neal Shusterman and his son Jarrod explore the possibilities of how chaos could unfold in California if the water crisis explodes. The book is told in alternating voices, mostly following Alyssa and her brother Garrett, their next door neighbor Kelton, and a couple more teens they meet as they try to navigate and survive an increasingly dangerous disaster.
This book is a gripping, quick narrative and terrifying in how plausible it feels. The story is set in a near future – far out enough that California has implemented legislation on water usage (“The Frivolous Use Act”) but close enough that people aren’t worried about it yet. The circumstances of the tap-out are specific and isolated, so the book is more about exploring how this might pan out specifically in the California community rather than a larger scale water-crisis. But the ideas it presents will make anyone want to start stock-piling and prepping for doomsday.
The diversity of the teens is OK – we have some racial diversity, but all of them are from middle and upper-middle class communities — it seems like the aim here is mostly to shake up those of us with privilege (but without getting into acknowledging how those w/out privilege are doomed from the beginning). The biggest differences between the characters seems to be personality types: Alyssa, the caretaker and voice of reason, Kelton, from an independent family who’s been preparing for apocalypse his entire life, Jacqui, older, brash, and streetwise beyond her years, and Henry, the manipulator with his own agenda. The book is practically romance-free which is a rarity in YA (and a good thing. Hard to concentrate on your hormones when you’re literally dying of thirst).
I read the audiobook, and it’s an all-stars list of performers!
Definitely worth picking up if you’re into environmental disaster fiction, or hand off to someone you want to scare into thinking twice about watering their lawn again.