The world of dystopia young adult fiction is pretty crowded right now. It is the what is the what in genre fiction. Given that, it is hard to find a book that is fresh and provides a perspective not yet covered by all of the post-apocalypse/dystopia books out there – it is pretty exciting to find one that is new. Not a Drop to Drink is that fresh perspective.
The book starts from the improbable premise of a young girl who is around the age of 16 and only knows one person in the world – her mother. She knows of a man who lives nearby, but doesn’t truly know him. And she knows nothing about the world but survival by offense. She spends her days either preparing for winter or protecting her water source with deadly force.
Not a Drop to Drink takes place in a world where there was first an oil shortage and then a severe water shortage. The countryside has been abandoned by the government in the US and the cities are tightly controlled. The story takes place in rural Ohio, there is no government and daily life is more brutal than any imagined wild west or Little House on the Prairie.
There are a lot of details about daily survival, food preparation, water purification, house building and that is what made this book interesting – and this is the part I really loved. The author realizes what it would actually take to live outside of society and the infrastructure we rely on so much. She uses those daily survival details to provide the framework of the world she builds. If readers enjoy reading about the daily details of survival then they would like this; these details are where I think the true beauty of Not a Drop to Drink is. There is great character development and a good amount of action, but what a Not a Drop to Drink demonstrates is the day to day living would be like in a post apocalyptic world. This is the Little House on the Prairie for the end of the world readers. And it is not romanticized, it is not idealistic.
Is there romance? So what would a modern post-apoc/dystopica young adult novel be without romance – so yes, there is romance. But, romance is not the driving factor of the story and the book is not working toward a predictable happily ever after.
In short, I loved this book. I could not put it down. It is not without flaws, but it was enjoyable and adds something new to this perhaps too full genre.