Monday, September 16, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Copyright 2013
Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins) - YA/Dystopian
309 pp.

First Sentence:

Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink.  

Summarize the plot without giving away the ending:

In a dystopian Ohio with water and food shortages, Lynn and her mother spend their time growing food for the winter, purifying water from their pond and defending the pond from invaders.  There is a stream, nearby, but it's unreliable and the pond is slowly drying up.   Lynn and her mother are on waving acquaintance with a single neighbor and have two potential threats to worry about -- smoke by the stream and a gang of men who have attempted to approach the house.

When tragedy strikes and Lynn is left on her own, she must decide whether or not to join forces with her neighbor and help a suffering family by the stream.

HarperCollins has called this YA a "cross-over" novel and I wasn't sure what they meant by that, so I asked and will update when I receive a reply but I'm guessing it's not going to be advertised specifically to the YA crowd because it's not watered down or floofy in any way and likely will appeal to adults who cringe at the idea of reading a young adult novel.  Just a guess.  

Capsule Description:

Winter is falling and there's a deadly threat near Lynn's home.  It's up to her to defend her precious water source in a world where water is scarce. Is she willing to reach out to her neighbor and take the risk of leaving her home to help the starving people by the stream, or will she choose to fight off her enemies on her own?

What did you like best about Not a Drop to Drink?

I like books that are about survival in desperate situations and Not a Drop to Drink is a good one.  The  protagonist, Lynn, has been brought up in a harsh world and the situations that she ends up in are often gut-wrenching. But, she's tough when needed and, after she meets people outside her safe zone, she softens in the right ways.  She's a great character and the book is rife with tension.  First there are the various threats to her pond and then, eventually, when the people threatening her home materialize, there's an even bigger challenge to face.  All is handled well, with just enough quiet moments to develop the characters between tense action scenes.  Actually, having written this, I realize I didn't give it a high enough rating at Goodreads.  It's darn near perfect, so I've gone back and changed my rating to a 5/5.

What did you dislike about Not a Drop to Drink?

I thought the set-up was a little bit dull but it was necessary. Actually, what little I disliked was all necessary and, therefore, I ended up thinking there really wasn't anything I disliked.  Bad things happen in the book but while they're not necessarily predictable (therefore avoiding the trite), they have the ring of truth and are at least subconsciously expected.  I just can't say anything negative at all about Not a Drop to Drink.

Highly recommended - Well-written, tense, atmospheric, excellent world-building -- just a great book, all-around. The author beautifully wove interaction with excitement, friendship with tragedy, climaxing the story with a particularly dramatic action scene and ending with a satisfying wrap-up that takes place years down the road. I don't recall any bad language and there's no sex, so the book is acceptable for YA readers who can handle a lot of death and frightening situations but it's also solidly plotted and believable enough for adult readers who might be just a bit skeptical of young adult novels.  It is also heartbreaking at times.

Cover thoughts:  I like the cover.  The colors give it an "atmospheric" look and while the image of the house and pond aren't entirely accurate to the story (there's an antenna that can be used to climb to the roof, the house is larger in description than the image reflects, there is some forest nearby and there's also a barn), it works well enough.  Lynn spends a lot of time on the roof of her home, watching out for danger, so the figure on the roof is accurate to the story.  

I received a copy of Not a Drop to Drink from HarperCollins in return for an unbiased review.

©2013 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I am trying to remember where I recently saw this book.....driving me crazy that I cannot remember. But I thought the premise looked interesting because it is so very plausible. I'm glad you give it such a resounding endorsement....I will most definitely be reading it!

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Michele. I thought the author did an excellent job of keeping the tension and changing her character while keeping her true to herself at the same time, if that makes sense. Well, I guess you'll see. :)


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