So I resolved to dedicate the rest of 2018 to reading only fantasy books (adult mostly, with one or two YA thrown in). But for Dry I made an exception because when Shusterman writes a new dystopian I must read it!
This was an impossible to put down read, definitely, but it wasn't as good as I thought it would be, unfortunately. Which kind of doesn't makes sense said together like that, but hear me out. The writing, the pace and the subject were gripping, but the character development together with some plot holes definitely put a damp into it.
The beautiful and also scary thing about Shusterman's books, is that they feel so real. So freaking real. This might as well have been a news report on TV - it was so believable. And that is the scary part of it. Sure, Dry is just a book, today. But tomorrow, or 2 years from now it might as well be a reality.
California draught is a real thing that has been happening, and as far as I can tell will only get worse. But will it come to the events that this fiction book portrayed? I think it will. And I also think that it will come to even worse of an outcome.
Environmental tendencies and using is the real reason why I love Neil Shusterman so much. Scythe was full of them , and Dry has even more. And I truly think that it's just way we need. We need to read about what might happen to us if we keep living the way we live now. We need to see the ugly side of humanity, if only so we can prevent it in the future. Hopefully. The sad part is, the natural disaster wasn't a true problem in this book. The true problem were the people who created the disaster in the first place. And who handled it so terribly wrong. I don't think that the planet will eventually kill us. I think that we will kill each other first.
The writing was superb. The pace made this book read like a movie - which I loved. The characters .... Ehh. They were good, or they had good potentials but I don't think any of them reached it. They just weren't flushed out enough. It may have to do with too many POV's throughout the book. The reader never got a chance to fully attach to a specific character, really.
The plot also had quite a few holes and things that weren't explained well enough (why was a 13 year old home alone for weeks? Were there two helicopters at the end? and many more...). I honestly kept wishing for more water shortage related facts - how they got there, how other states near the lake managed to be okay, but only California crashed and burned. I just wanted more science behind the disaster. But nook instead focused largely on the characters and how they were navigating it, which is fine, but I wanted more of a background.
Also, I thought it was quite comical that when we finally get a sensible YA main character it feels very weird at first. I couldn't understand why this girl was so mature and why wasn't she boy crazy and drowning in puberty? Which is embarrassing to admit, but it is what I've come to expect from YA books. But I seemed to forget that this is Shusterman we are taking about. And his girl characters rock hard (looking at you Citra!).
In the end, while I do think that the book could use a bit more flushing out and a bit more plot development I still absolutely recommend it to everyone. If only for the topic that it covers. It's so important. And we need more books like this. Real life dystopian books (is that a genre?Can it be one?)
Big thanks to the Simon TEEN publishing and Simon and Schuster books for young readers for sending me an advanced copy for the review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
Freelance BETA reader.