Book Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

13112869Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
How I got it: I bought it
Click here to buy this book from Amazon

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.

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!



Book Review: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1) by Susan Ee

11500217Title: Angelfall
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy
How I got it: I bought it

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

First of all, I would just like to say that I, along with many other YA aficionados, have really bad experiences when it comes to books that has something to do with angels. This paranormal archetype has been used in some of the most terrible YA books to ever come out in the history of YA Fiction, and yes I am talking about Hush Hush, Fallen, and Halo. These are just really bad books with angels in them as main characters and/or love interests, and they were so traumatizingly horrible that they made me super cautious about jumping into the angels bandwagon again. This is the reason why I kept on putting off reading Angelfall. It was in my Kobo for months before I even decided to give it a try.

And now all I can say is WOW.

Seriously. My logical mind predicted this book to be bad, bacause a.) it has angels in it and we all know how well that turned out for Lauren Kate and Becca Fitzpatrick and b.) it is a self-published book, which, you know, stereotypically means it’s not that good. But boy, did this book trash all of my logical predictions. It did so in a way that surprised me and completely caught me off guard.

Why is this book so good? It’s because Susan Ee’s depiction of the dystopian world we found Penryn in is so tragically beautiful in all its glorious monstrosity that we can’t help but fear it and at the same time, want to know all about it. In a post-apocalyptic world, Penryn Young struggles to keep her family alive and afloat despite the tide of disaster that is threatening to overwhelm them. With a troubled mother and a disabled sister, Penryn is the only person that can be trusted to make decisions that would keep all of them safe in an unsafe world. But what is causing all this havoc and chaos in the first place? Angels. That’s right. Winged monsters from the heavens who are as ruthless and brutal as they are beautiful.

The conflict of the book starts when Penryn rescues Raffe, an angel who was injured in a fight with five others of his kind. Our heroine soon realizes that the price for this act of kindness was more than she was willing to pay as it becomes clear that her sister Paige, the person she loves more than anything else in the world, was captured by one of the five angels who attacked the one she just saved. Determined to get her sister back at all costs, Penryn decides to take a risk and forges an unlikely alliance with a reluctant and arrogant heavenly creature whose entire race was the enemy of her own.

This is not your usual fraternizing with the enemy kind of tale, where at some point while camping on the dark forest floor the characters decide they were attracted to each other so they jump each other’s bones the first opportunity they get. No, thank you. The farthest Susan Ee took us into the romance department were Penryn and Raffe’s sharp, sarcastic banter, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Only a hint of a budding love was given because both characters have more pressing issues to attend to, and yet it only made this book a lot more enjoyable (and the sequel that much more covetable). You know it’s a good book when the author doesn’t need to bombard you with cheesiness and smut every 3rd page just to keep you interested.

Penryn as a character is very admirable and memorable. She is sassy and compassionate and brainy and full of steely determination to do what needs to be done no matter what it takes to get there. She knows how to kicks ass literally and is an overall warrior princess in all the ways that matter, and though she acknowledges Raffe’s physical allure, she does not act stupid in his presence just because of it. A+ for the self preservation, Susan. A++++

Y’all girls need to read about Penryn Young.

Anyway, this book is also full of action not limited to the main characters alone. There is a hidden military camp that aims to save the day, cannibals that lurk in the black of night, and supernatural experiments so nightmarish in their description that they make your shiver. In short, this beautiful story is backdropped by such unspeakable horrors that it creates a very interesting contrast in the narrative which works astoundingly well with all the elements of the story. Add this to the fact that Susan Ee’s version of angels are in accordance with the mythical cannon, which means she knows her shit and she knows it well.

All in all, this book has now landed itself a place in my shelf entitled BEST BOOKS EVER and Penryn Young has just secured herself a spot in my ALL-TIME FAVORITE BAD-ASS HEROINES list. Did I mention that Susan Ee is joining the exclusive club of my favorite authors whether she likes it or not? Well she is and she can’t do anything about it now. But you know what else is great about this book? It only costs $4.99 for paperback and $3.99 for Kindle. It’s so unbelievably affordable for a book of this caliber. I honestly think it should cost like, $20.00 or something.

To cap it all, I am just so glad I opened Angelfall when I did because otherwise, I would have deprived myself the opportunity to read something that is just plain excellent. You, too, should do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this insanely brilliant book now.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.