Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
From Goodreads:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

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.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

I'm just going to jump right on in and put it out there - Lynn is a badass. 

Raised by her mother after being abandoned by her father, Lynn takes care of what is hers.  And while she does wish things were different, the fact of the matter is that things are what they are and the world is not a kind and gentle place.  You do what you have to do to survive.

“Do you want to die like this?" Mother had asked, that night and every night since then.

Lynn's answer never changed. "No."

And Mother's response, their evening prayer. "Then you will have to kill.

Water is precious and rationed.  And guarded.  To maintain their independence from "city life", Lynn and her mother guard the pond on their land from scavengers - both four-legged and otherwise.  Every day, every minute is a battle to survive...whether Lynn is gathering firewood, or worrying about the snow, or scanning the perimeter for threats.  There was little time for fun, for chit chat, for getting to know your neighbors, much less trust them.

Until something happens that makes it necessary.  

If you've been following my blog, or even my Goodreads account from my pre-blogging days, I make no secret of my disdain for spineless heroines.  I have a 9 year old daughter and the very last thing I want her to read is a book that makes her think that she can't take care of herself. 

Makes. Me. Rage.

And this book had none of that.  

But being tough as nails comes at a price.

Lynn isn't an easy character to get to know.  Emotions are a luxury that she rarely allows and even as a reader, this made me struggle with how I felt about her.  She is sterile and abrasive and cold...and then I realized that Ms. McGinnis is a genius.  I wasn't just a reader at that moment, I was experiencing the story.  That I had to claw and cling to any little bit of information I could get was just a little glimpse into how life in this society works.  Nothing is easily given.

Because things can be easily taken away as one particular moment made sure to remind me.  I may or may not have had to read it a few times and then ask somebody if that really happened. 

And that's all I'm going to say about that because well...because.  
You'll know what I'm talking about when you get read it.  Believe me. 

I am completely enthralled by the way Mindy McGinnis tells this story and creates a world that both terrifies me and fascinates me at the same time.  And the characters -- gah.  Not just Lynn, but her mom, and Stebbs, and Eli, and Lucy.  I pulled for the good guys - absorbing the pain of their struggles and their joy during the few precious moments when they allowed themselves to celebrate.  I hated the bad guys.  Hated them hard.  While the descriptions and emotions in this book are relatively bare bones, that doesn't take away from the intensity.  Flowy and frilly and pretty has no place in this book. 

I read this book back in mid-August and I'm still completely wow'd by it.  If forced to describe it in 15 words or less, I say think of a mash-up of Little House in the Prairie and The Hunger Games but it really is more than that.  It is dystopian, but different.  Romantic, but not pushy.   Action packed, most definitely.  Gritty and raw, certainly.   

Worth the read, absolutely.

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