Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis Review

Monday, July 22, 2013

Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis (Twitter)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publish Date: September 24, 2013
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

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...
Lynn's life is defined by water...or the lack thereof. Born after the Shortage, she lives in a world where water is so scarce that people live and die in a quest to find it. Raised solely by her mother in this world ravaged by carnage, she knows that, above all else, she has to protect the pond. This, their sole source of water, is the key to their mutual survival, and she must always put the pond first. Without it, and without water, they will die slow, painful deaths. But the water isn't the only thing worth killing for, and Lynn's world is about to turn on its head when she learns that everything she knows might not be enough. 

Although I've been fairly put-off by the dystopian genre in general, I've been intrigued by the premise of Not a Drop to Drink from day one. Offering readers a story that that is dark, terrifying and, frankly, entirely plausible, we're invited into a world so broken that young children learn to defend themselves and their water sources with guns from childhood. Author, Mindy McGinnis, has crafted a new spin on the dystopian genre, inviting readers a story that's dynamic, provocative and incredibly memorable. It's the type of story that will linger; haunting and baiting you with every sip of water you drink.

I'll be entirely honest and say that I wasn't sure what to think at the start of Not a Drop to Drink. It's a very internally-driven story,and although it's written in third-person, we're immediately drawn within Lynn's persona and state of mind. Because we begin with just two primary characters, we see the world in distinct and stark shades of black and white from her perspective, which can be a bit limiting. The story, however, progresses, and we get to see Lynn change from a girl with one sole purpose into someone that welcomes change and evolves as the world begins to change around her, as well. In large part, I loved Lynn's character. She had this aura about her and a carefully-constructed facade of protection around her that shielded her from the worst of her pain. Although, at times, I wish she showed more emotion, it was actually an asset to the storyline that she distanced herself from the worst of her emotions because it made the story a lot more plausible. I also loved that we got to watch as she gradually evolved throughout the novel. The changes weren't immediate, and we never lost sight of her as a person, but as the secondary characters such as Stebbs entered the picture, we began to see the walls melt. Lucy was a brilliant addition to the novel. Her innocent persona perfectly offset the frankness of Lynn's, and they counter-balanced each other well. I was worried that when Eli entered that we would suddenly have an insta-love on our hands, but their careful budding friendship and romance really heightened the tension, the drama and the ultimate stakes of the novel. I did have a few small issues with the novel including the revelation of the backstory. We don't understand how the world became the way it did until the final third of the book, which works, but left me a bit confused until I became too absorbed in the story to care. Also, I felt that the final events of the novel were rushed. The revelations of Lynn's father, the constant mentions of a city we never actually see and the untimely events that we hoped to avoid all happen in an instant, and I do think that the novel could have easily worked with a hundred or more pages. And, although I'm not a fan of epilogues for the most part, I have to say that seeing the story come full circle was a truly beautiful touch. 

All in all though, I really enjoyed Not a Drop to Drink. It's not a happily ever after tale, and it's certainly not a feel-good book, but it's profound and powerful. Despite a few flaws, I give it a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA who enjoy darker dystopian novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

34 comments:

  1. Oh this sounds fantastic! I'm so glad to see you enjoyed it so much! Too often lately these books with such great premises end up being a disappointment. I'm definitely grabbing this, dark & terrifying dystopian fiction is right up my alley!

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    1. I think it's going to be a mixed batch of reviews for this one. It takes its sweet-assed time to develop, but I really enjoyed it. I hope you do, too!

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  2. I have been looking forward to this for a long time.

    Fab review! <33

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  3. I was definitely wondering about this one! Though I haven't given up on this genre altogether, I've gotten to be very picky about what I read from it. The idea of this young girl having to guard her water with her life and her gun is horrible but, yeah, it's definitely a possibility, the way we're running through this planet.

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    1. It's an interesting concept, for sure, and I think it's done really well. There are a few flaws, but if you can deal with darker stories without the HEA, you might just like it, Mary! :)

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  4. Darker Dystopian! count me in. The story sounds original and I love survival books. Thanks for the awesome review, Melissa :D I want to read this despite the flaws.

    -Dannielle

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    1. It's really original, Dannielle, and it's definitely bleak. I think you might just like it! Just remember - it's a very emotional book, rather than action-packed.

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  5. I am somewhat more cautious with dystopias these days, but this has been getting pretty great initial reactions and reviews, so I'm (cautiously) optimistic for a change. I'm relieved to see that you ended up liking it as well, despite not being sure at first.
    Lovely review as usual, Melissa!

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    1. Thank you, Maja! I hope that you do read it. It's a great take on the genre, and I loved that it stuck to it's bleaker, darker roots ;)

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  6. Yeah I can see the mixed reviews on this one. Totally agree with you about this book and development of Lynn. I was glad not to see insta love too. I actually liked this book too :)

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, too, Julie! I can see why people have some issues with it, but I think it was well thought-out, and I really liked the direction Mindy took :)

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  7. Thank you for the well-written and thoughtful review! I'm glad you enjoyed DRINK :)

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    1. Thank you for writing such an excellent book, Mindy! It's a fantastic addition to a great genre, and it renews my hope in dystopian books, as a whole!

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  8. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this, Melissa! I read it last week and my review has some similar points to yours but I liked it a little less than you did. I loved the world-building and the setting itself, but I had trouble connecting with Lynn's character. Like you mentioned, she doesn't really express her emotions. But I did like her strength and her relationship with Lucy. The ending was brutal but it was realistic. I also thought the book could have done with more pages, because for almost 70% of the book, nothing much happened when it came to the plot.
    Still, overall, I enjoyed this book. Don't give up on dystopians just yet Melissa! There are some fabulous sounding ones coming out next year.
    Fabulous review as always! :)

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    1. I'm trying not to give up on them, Nick! This one actually restored a bit of my hope and faith in the genre because it stuck to its dystopian roots. I do wish there'd been a bit more of the story, but I loved how Mindy told this tale!

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  9. Not sure I would like this one because darker dystopians (Post-apocalyptic) books are probably my least favorite genre, but I'm really happy that it turned out to be a winner, in some respects, for people who like the genre (even if you are a little tired of it). It sounds really profound, so I may convince my sister to read it :D She'd probably enjoy this one like you did.

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    1. I hope she does read it, Becca! It's a really well-written book and, although bleak, it's powerful :)

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  10. We talked about this one Melissa, and I can't even tell you how glad I am you tackled it first and were able to share a few details that convinced me this is not the book for me. I need a feel-good book for sure, I don't mind the darker books, in fact I crave them, but there's a certain thing we discussed and I just can't get past that. My poor heart can't take it. I love that it's a different type of story though, and clearly a poignant one. Stunning review:)

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    1. I totally know what you mean, and I probably wouldn't have had the heart to read it if I'd known, too. However, like we talked about...it worked for me, and Mindy has a way with story-telling, for sure! I do hope that someday you read it!

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  11. I am getting a wee bit sick of dystopian novels, but this one sounds promising! I like the ones that are plausible and a world with scare water is definitely one of those.

    Great review, Melissa!

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  12. Since I just wrapped a week of Apocalyptic/dystopian books, I am not in a hurry to pick up antoehr dystopian anytime soon, however, this does sound intriguing and it certainly has a highly probably conflict. I just might have to check it out!

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  13. Oh I know waiting until the last 3rd of the book to get those answers would bother me, but knowing now that they are there I can deal. :) Oh this sounds interesting. I might have to read this one, but I think I'll wait until later. I do need a feel good book now. :)

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  14. "She had this aura about her and a carefully-constructed facade of protection around her that shielded her from the worst of her pain."

    -- nicely stated, and very accurate.

    I enjoyed Lynn's character too, especially once I got used to her personality. I adored Stebbs and Lucy, and I agree about the epilogue!

    Fabulous review! Glad you enjoyed NADTD :)

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  15. I love the cover of this one. I'm a sucker for a good book cover and totally read books based on their covers. This one sounds like it won't disappoint.

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  16. I've heard so many good things about this one and cannot wait to read it now! I'm all for new dystopians and this one sounds fantastic. Lovely review, Melissa! :D

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  17. I'm less enthused to pick up dystopians lately. The stories just don't appeal to me right now. However the concept behind this story sounds frightening and compelling! You're right, the situation doesn't seem that implausible. Great review, Melissa. I'll have to check this out sometime. :)

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  18. I'm not a huge dystopian fan but I think the premise of this one sounds really interesting and plausible. It also seems like the characters are very well-developed, and I like that you get to see growth in the MC. I'll add this one to my wishlist based on your recommendation, Melissa.

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  19. Oh, it's not a part of a series? I'm very curious to know how the author managed to put a futuristic world together and complete the story in one book. I'm loving dystopian this month, so I might give it a try. Great review, Melissa!

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  20. I've never heard of this one! I think it sounds super interesting, though, and I'll be watching for it. Thanks, Melissa.

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  21. I do love my dystopians, and I love everything about this one. I'm glad you liked it because it makes me even more excited to read it! I like that you could connect to the characters even though it was written in third person.

    Alise @ Readers in Wonderland

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  22. I haven't heard of this one till now, but I'm definitely interested after your review. The summary is intriguing enough and it sounds like it was executed pretty well. I also like that it's a stand-alone! :D

    Julia @ That Hapa Chick

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  23. This is a lovely review of a book that definitely intrigues me! I actually really love third person narratives, and I'm particularly interested in watching the main character develop as a person and open her heart to other people as she struggles in this barren place. I also adore aching, slow building romances that are a part of a larger picture. Plus I've heard that this is a standalone, which is a big draw for me, though that also likely spells disaster. Great review!

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  24. This is what I do. I go through a bunch of your reviews all at once so I can add books I haven't heard of yet to my to-read list. So, thank you for that!

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