Monday, August 25, 2014


Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Series: Not a Drop to Drink, #1
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Genres: YA, Dystopian
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5


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….


For a very long time I absolutely refused to read this book simply because I saw it as yet ANOTHER dystopian novel which is probably built on a predictable, swoony romance foundation, following a tired and overused post-apocalyptic plot formula. It only took a single review from one of the many blogs I follow to change my mind. And probably also the news that it has been optioned for film (read more about it, here). Whichever way, I have no regrets for giving this book a chance. It turned out to be not what I expected at all.

First I have to say that this is a character-driven novel. There are only a handful of characters to keep track of, and every one of them brings something new to the story. Let’s start with our leading lady, Lynn. Lynn is an enormously fascinating character and one I believe McGinnis wrote exclusively for me seeing as I’m always carrying on about weak female protagonists in the YA genre. Having been raised for the past sixteen years of her existence in a rural part of the countryside, Lynn has never had contact with any other human being other than her mother, Laura. All she understands, because of her upbringing, is that she has to defend her only source of cholera-free water with her life. Shoot now, don’t ask questions at all.

But what makes Lynn so fascinating? Well, there are certain human emotions which are completely foreign to her, such as compassion, gratitude, humor, flirting, falling in love, and so on. With the rest of the characters steadily entering into the story, each one of them contributes to helping Lynn experience and understand different kinds of emotions. Furthermore, I absolutely loved the fact that Lynn is such an incredibly fearless character. Most emotions which influence our decisions are foreign to her, so when she has to make life or death choices, it is - in the early stages of the story – relatively straightforward decisions void of the emotions that might make her hesitate and second-guess herself.

The rest of the supporting cast is made up of similarly charming characters (with the exception of Neva). There’s Lucy, the five-year-old bundle of energy Lynn is forced take under her wing and keep safe from the harsh elements and starvation. Stebbs, Lynn’s neighbor who is the first person Lynn has contact with aside from her mother. I just want to say that apart from Lynn, Stebbs is a terrific character who teaches Lynn the things her mother has never taught her, and who ended up being a few characters’ saving grace. He brings a certain warmth to the story which leaves a void when he isn’t around. That’s the best way I can think of describing it.

When Eli’s character was introduced, I started worrying that this is the point where the storyline will revert to the typical dystopian romance backbone to further the plot. In some ways it did, but then there’s that unexpected twist just before the end which made me realize the author brought him into the story for a different purpose than I originally thought (about which I was quite relieved). Turns out I was wrong about the romance aspect also, and the story continued to be about Lynn’s survival in the wild and defending her only source of water as well as the handful of people to whom she’s offering shelter.

Vera, Neva, and Eli play relatively smaller parts than Lynn (obviously), Stebbs and Lucy, but their roles aren’t less important. The pacing is quite slow and if it’s an action-filled plot you’re after, this is not going to satisfy that need. The little action there is, is more towards the end of the story and it isn’t much. Although I’m happy with the ending, I did wish the chapters where Lynn’s little three-man army overtook the neighboring village could’ve been more fluffed out.  

All in all this was a superb read. Strong characters, a memorable story, a little tongue-in-cheek humor, a few hair-raising moments, and lots to contemplate, Not a Drop to Drink is inarguably one of the better dystopian novels I’ve read in a while, and I can’t wait to get started on its sequel!

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I'm an avid blogger, posting six days a week to my personal blog, Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, which features interviews with agents, established authors, and debut authors. Learn how they landed their agents, what the submission process is really like, and how it feels when you see your cover for the first time. I also do query critiques every Saturday on the Saturday Slash for those who are brave enough to volunteer.

I also contribute to the group blogs From the Write Angle, Book Pregnant, Friday the Thirteeners, The Lucky 13s, The League of Extraordinary Writers and am a member of the Class of 2k13.

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