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.
This book is not among my favorites but it was okay.
I remember seeing this on my own and marking it to read, so the description is something that caught my interest. I think the problem is that there are only so many ways you can tell this type of story before the day to day routines of the characters just become, well, routine. Unfortunately for Not a Drop, it’s not the first in this sub-genre that I selected. I think if it had been, my review might be a little different.
Let’s take a look at the pros first. No character is safe. I like the apocalyptic scenario- it’s so simple and extremely terrifying. I like the structure of the city life versus the country life. I like the ending. I won’t ruin the ending, but it is possible to have an ending that is both happy and sad and Not a Drink is a good example. The story is interesting and the editing is very good. You won’t be annoyed by a lot of typos and grammatical errors.
Now the cons. I like the structure of the city life versus the country life, but I was left craving so much more. I want more details about the city. In fact, I want a prequel that describes the events leading up to Not a Drop, and not necessarily from the same characters. I think I would like to hear that story from several points of view. For me, a lot of the scenes became mundane at a point. I was bored in some sections and struggled to get through them. Finally, how did the world come to this? There were so many questions and for a world that is lacking in water and electricity, there seems to be a lot going around based on the environment. Was it a mistake by the author or is the apocalyptic event something else? The simple fact is, we don’t know because the author doesn’t adequately explain how this situation occurs.
I tend NOT to read reviews of books I am reading for book groups before I read the book. I know I am going to read the book no matter what, so there is no decision process involved, therefore no reason to read reviews to help me decide. Since I know I am going to discuss the book afterwards, I want to read the book with no preconceived notions.
After writing down my initial thoughts on Not a Drop, I looked up negative reviews on Goodreads and want to address a couple of points.
Several reviewers commented that the book basically fell flat and I completely understand; I even mentioned that above. On the other hand… not all apocalyptic scenarios are going to be Mel Gibson Road Warrior worthy. Isn’t that the whole point of “This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper”? It may not be phenomenal book material, but I can’t find it in myself to overly fault the author for this.
Several reviewers commented on how the characters were not likeable, well developed and were devoid of emotion. Eh… I agree… and disagree. I don’t have to like the characters if the story is good, so that is not an issue for me, but I did like the characters. Some of the criticisms of specific characters also didn’t concern me because I could explain why they were the way they were. Seriously, you can only be raped so many times and suffer so much loss before you become a complete shell of yourself. Hopefully we’ll never have the opportunity to experience what they experienced and discover how we react.
Where I do agree is the lack of emotion from the main character, Lynn. The book can be divided into two distinct sections, and I think it would have been beneficial if the author had actually included Part 1 and Part 2. In the first section of the book, Lynn does seem to suffer from a complete lack of emotion, which seems impossible, unless you’re Vulcan. I understand needing to be vigilant, cold, calculating, careful, prepared, etc. but for a child to have no emotions… I just don’t buy it. I don’t think the author intends for us to buy it, but I think she could have done a better job of portraying emotions without sacrificing the tenacious fight for survival.
All in all, if you are a collector of apocalyptic fiction, I think you will probably enjoy Not a Drop to Drink. If you are a dabbler or just starting out, you may be less than impressed. Eventually I will probably go back and read the upcoming sequel and if McGinnis ever decides to write a prequel about the cities, I would definitely read that.
Reviewed by Christina
May 3, 2014