Imagine having to live in a world where your existence is constantly endangered by the very surroundings you live in and by other people who would kill you just to get what you have; where every day is a perpetual struggle for survival and even your moments of rest are plagued by the looming threat of death and starvation, or in this case, dehydration. Imagine having to fight every day of your life for a sole source of water, without which you will be guaranteed to die within a week. Scary thought, right? Scary but ultimately possible, especially at the rate the world and its inhabitants are going right now.
Not a Drop to Drink is about a girl and her pond and what she is willing to do to make sure that it remains hers. Lynn lives in a world where water has become scarce; a privilege not everybody is lucky to be afforded, a necessity many people would kill for, including Lynn herself. Over the years, Lynn and her mother defended their pond fervently, not daring to take any risk with strangers and putting them down with a bullet when they get too close for comfort. Lynn learned not to hesitate when the need to pull the trigger rises. She learned to put first before anything her survival even before her conscience. But when Lynn’s mother dies, she is left alone and mourning with nobody to back her up in defending her source of water. Ultimately Lynn has to make the choice: to be the solitary guardian of her pond without anyone to turn to for help, or to take the risk of opening herself up for the possibility of alliances, of friendships, and of love.
I have always been fascinated by dystopian novels and the future worlds they show us. Mostly I’d like to think of them as cautionary tales, stories that warn us against something that could happen, but won’t really. Not A Drop To Drink is not like that, not to me. In all the time I have been reading this novel, I am fully aware of how close its plot was to this reality, the one I’m living in, and of how high the odds are of it happening in my lifetime or in the near future. Nothing scarier than losing something we never thought could run out. We take advantage of water every day, confident that it would always gush out of the tap when we twist the knob, but what if one day it doesn’t?
It’s not a pleasant idea to contemplate, but Mindy McGinnis did a superb job in painting Lynn’s world. I liked that she focused on just a small group of people and their fight for water and survival. Lynn as a character was strong and solid, and her development is gradual and satisfactory; from the girl who would not cast a second thought into lodging a bullet in someone’s brain to the young woman who finally felt compunction; who dared to ask and help and care for other people’s struggles and feelings. The other characters were relevant to the plot as well. Lucy is the perfect person to soften Lynn up; a mirror of the relationship she had with her mother staring back at her, and Stebbs is like everyone’s cool uncle; he was a reliable constant in Lynn’s dangerous world. And Eli; Eli is both Lynn’s biggest risk and her hardest sacrifice.
Not a Drop to Drink is a story of survival, more than anything. It’s not a story of a girl who tries to change the world and make it better for everyone. It’s a story of a girl who has to make hard choices to buy herself and the people she cares for another day to live. Not all of us could start a revolution especially against something as powerful as nature. Sometimes all there is to do is to try to make it to tomorrow and take it one day at a time.
In summary, I thought that Not A Drop To Drink was a very atmospheric and thought-provoking novel, told in the practical voice of Lynn, with a neat plot and a steady but suspenseful pacing. The story’s strength is in its characters, each one a symbolic representation of something: of quiet determination, of dignified insurgence, of strengths and weaknesses, and of hope amidst misery. Mindy McGinnis is a skillful story teller, one that is definitely to watch out for, and this book is easily one of my best reads this year. Four and a half coconuts.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments section and let’s talk!