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YA Book Review: Not A Drop to Drink – A Compelling Debut Novel

Not a drop to drink cover

Book: Not A Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Website: Mindy McGinnis

Not A Drop to Drink is a Young Adult Science Fiction novel by Mindy McGinnis.  It is the first in a series taking place in a dystopian setting where clean water is scarce and large companies strictly regulate it as a resource in the cities. Despite its well-trodden subject matter, McGinnis brings a fresh perspective, choosing to focus on a small set of characters in a rural setting.

Lynn lives with her mother in the countryside far from the problems in the cities.  They live isolated protecting their only source of water, a small pond. Life is dangerous; the two women are surrounded by threats of drought, coyotes, starvation, dysentery, hard winters and from other human beings who want what they have. After losing her mother suddenly, Lynn is left alone to face the dangers of the only world she has ever known.

Lynn has been taught not to trust anyone, but when a clueless family from the city sets up downstream she has to make the decision to help them or let them die. She can either live like her mother or learn that there is more to life than just surviving.

Survival is a major theme in the book. The author goes into great detail about the amount of work that goes into the simple business of keeping alive. If Lynn isn’t collecting and purifying water, she’s stockpiling wood, canning food or performing any number of tasks to prepare for the winter, all the while ready to shoot enemies at a second’s notice. Those processes are detailed and fascinating. The family relationships and the bonds Lynn develops with fellow survivors are also interesting, enriching the story.

McGinnis’ prose is compelling with characters that are fully realised and anything but stereotypical.

This is an extremely competent debut novel. McGinnis’ prose is compelling with characters that are fully realised and anything but stereotypical. The writing is straightforward and unsentimental yet possesses a complex heart at its centre, much like its protagonist. Lynn is an incredibly strong heroine who leans toward being ruthless at times. Yet this is necessary to survive in the broken world she grew up in.  Her emotional growth is believable and her journey is interesting. Though the pace is a little uneven, it builds well to a climactic and satisfying conclusion. I found the scenario the author imagined to be interesting and well thought out. My only real criticism might be that the romance between Lynn and Eli is rather forced and seems unnecessary.

Overall, it is an exciting read. McGinnis is not afraid to kill off characters or place her protagonist in real danger. This is a book which fans of Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic fiction will love.

Content Note: There are some graphic descriptions of wounds and the main character is threatened with rape at one point.  

Photo Credit: Katherine Tegan Books


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By on June 26th, 2015

About Elinor Cackett

Elinor is a writer and semi-recent graduate of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. She has been writing ever since she could hold a pen but her love affair with fiction started when the entirety of David Eddings’ 'The Belgariad' was read to her at age four. She currently has a couple of books and half a dozen short stories on the go. She spends her free time writing, analysing media and knitting very colourful scarves.

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