Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman (2018)
YA Fiction | Sci-Fi
“The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.”
pooled ink Review:
*Reminder: My star-ratings are my emotional/reactive ratings and not necessarily a reflection on the author’s ability to write
THIS BOOK. MADE ME FEEL. SO. STRESSED. OUT.
I just lost several years of my life due to the stress of reading this book. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t just explode.
But yeah, the stress was real. Bleh. Although that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it shows clear success in the way the writing was able to capture this state of emergency, but it also wasn’t exactly my favorite feeling haha. But I’m dead serious. From page one I could feel the stress begin buzzing in my veins, looming in my shadow, and with every page I read I was mentally screaming louder and louder. Honestly I’m amazed I haven’t gone full on prepper yet (in case you don’t know preppers are those people who…prepare. Lol. But for these types of emergency/collapse of society type of situations). I’m also amazed I bothered reading past that first chapter but since it was a book club book I persevered.
Look, I love survival stories, I love apocalyptic stories, I love dystopian stories, but this I did not like. I’m not saying I would be anyone’s first choice for their survival team plus I wasn’t having to make decisions in the moment like the characters, but in the comfort of my home able to assess the chaos in safe leisure I can firmly say that it was frustrating and the only thing that kept me from launching this book at a wall repeatedly or lighting it on fire and watching it burn slowly was that it was a library book and they frown upon such things, because these people were fools and mob mentality always frustrates me so really this isn’t a surprise.
Were the characters in this book realistic? Maybe? But that only makes it worse haha. Fools. All of them. I was texting my play-by-play commentary in all caps to a friend who had no idea what was going on but if I didn’t vent somehow I would have never made it through. And actually in some respect I didn’t because by page 171 I tapped out and began skimming just to get the bullet points and know how it ends. But I never want to read this again haha the sheer amount of stress I endured was crippling. (Bring on a plate of cookies and decaf tea to destress!)
I will say that I loved the premise and it was all laid out decently realistically (the emphasis on how news can control disaster relief was so spot on but the fact that the entire story took place over I think just 3 days has me heavily skeptical). I also loved that there were various POVs shared throughout the story and it’s something that really gave the plot full dimension keeping everything tumultuous yet informed. There were also these “Snapshot” chapters which were brief little glimpses from other people on the devastating scenario plaguing California and I love the range of perspectives they gave (different locations, different ages, different roles, different social statuses, etc.). It was a good idea and it worked well.
What I didn’t like were things mostly tied to the unrealistic elements in it. The timeline seemed far too short to me, most people wouldn’t turn into “water zombies” in one day, a military trained solider wouldn’t be so careless or trigger-happy with their weapons (in fact the dad broke a lot of protocol during that mob scene that he would’ve known according to real military people I know), most people would hold out a bit longer before having sex with a creep in his van in exchange for one bottle of water (and why was the mother okay with her daughter doing that??), etc. Also the main characters were just so irritating and I didn’t like any of them.
Look, I’m not saying this was a bad book, because it did everything it set out to do with great success. I’m just saying that I felt so much stress having to endure the “survival” journey of these morons that I never want to look at it again haha. I love how Neal Shusterman has this incredible way of spinning stories linked to our society today and making them feel so possible and just within reach that it’s terrifying (plus it calls up real issues to mind). But this was not a favorite of mine.
This book was okay but I definitely took quite a few breaks to eat a cookie and destress. This was definitely not a cover-to-cover binge read for me haha BUT if you’re super into these types of scenarios and you don’t get caught up in the heightened/inflated drama of the storytelling then this just might be the thrill you’ve waited for. I mean it’s Neal Shusterman, he’s a fantastic author especially when he writes a story so possible it’s terrifying to ponder. Just because this one didn’t click with me, don’t let it pass you by. Give it a look and you just might find yourself riveted to the page!
Dry is a tale on the cusp of becoming a horror novel as it builds upon possibilities and watches humanity fall apart from there. Never complacent, never still, and never ending, this book pushes with unforgiving force as disaster strikes and only the quick and clever have a shot at survival. If you’re interested in a glimpse of how civilization might fall then look no further.
P.S. Kelton’s brother is a dimwit and I remain unsurprised and unsympathetic about any part he has in this book. Other than anger once they…find out what he did (trying to avoid spoilers lol). At that I’d be effing raging. If Kelton thinks his brother raced home to warn them then he’s just as stupid because Kelton is a selfish, pathetic, cowardly, useless, halfwit. He for sure only came home because he was hungry. (Tearing him apart was something the entire book club enjoyed haha)
Purchase Here: Dry
Meet Neal Shusterman!
Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movie script.
In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer.
Neal Shusterman lives in Southern California with his children Brendan, Jarrod, Joelle, and Erin, who are a constant source of inspiration!
Meet Jarrod Shusterman!
Jarrod Shusterman is the author of the short story “UnDevoured” in bestselling UnBound. He writes for film and television, and his talents extend to directing films and commercials. He was the story producer on the television movie Zedd—Moment of Clarity, and he and his father Neal Shusterman are adapting Dry for the screen. Jarrod lives in Los Angeles but enjoys traveling internationally, and is currently studying Spanish.