16 September 2013

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Expected Publication: 24 September 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Publisher for review


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.

My Thoughts

Not a Drop to Drink was one of my most anticipated books of 2013.  I mean, the title and cover were enough to get me salivating, and then the synopsis had me stalking this book like a....well, like a book lover wanting to get their hands on the book that was 'meant for them'.

Lynn and her mother, Lauren, live in near-isolation in their farmhouse, vigilantly guarding their pond - a safe source of water in a world that is suffering extreme water shortage.  Keeping it isolated from others means that they are pretty ruthless when people approach them to ask for help, or try to take what is theirs.  

Lauren is a character that on the surface may appear selfish and hard, but it's also obvious as the story progresses that her one and only priority is keeping Lynn safe - even if it is at the expense of others.  Lynn is also one tough cookie - she is very similar to her mother, but this actually made me like both of them more, rather than less.  It's a strong family bond, and together they are almost impenetrable.

The most surprising, and probably the best thing about Not a Drop to Drink, is that McGinnis takes pretty much every stereotype in a genre that has started to feel cliched and turns it completely upside down:

- There's action, but it takes place over a very small, concentrated area and although the world is obviously up the proverbial creek, the characters are really the crux of the book.

- There's a lot of character development, particularly in Lynn, and gradually she starts to transform into an incredibly diverse character.  By the end of the book I was had nothing but complete admiration for her toughness, her loyalty and her focus.

- The romance is gradual and sweet, without being super-sappy.  When Lynn first meets the boy, Eli, there's not even really a comment on his looks, and only one reference through the book that I remember about the colour of his eyes.

Not a Drop to Drink was so near to perfect, it pains me to say there was only one thing that didn't quite fit to me - and that's the fact that Lauren never really taught Lynn to do in a 'worst case' scenario.  I would have imagined that a character like Lauren would have set Lynn up with a complete contingency plan if anything were to happen to her, but it was never mentioned, and felt strange that someone so intent on survival wouldn't do that.

When it comes to the world-building, there isn't a whole lot of information on what actually happened outside the immediate vicinity of Lynn's home.  However, the only way to do that would be a big info dump that would have felt completely out of place, so I'm more than glad that it was left up to my imagination.  There's no crazy dystopian regime, this is a book about survival, and the lengths that humans will go to to protect their family, their property and their way of life.

I don't want to spoil the book for potential readers, but there's are several events in the story that I would never have thought would happen - they are brave choices, but they make Not a Drop to Drink different from the vast majority of YA apocalyptic/dystopian books I've read in the past few years.  I really really liked this book - it far surpassed my expectations, and also took me by surprise in how very brave it is.


  1. Great review!

    I'm so super excited to get my hands on this one too! I'm so gonna spend next Wednesday reading it!

  2. This book is also one of my most anticipated reads this year and the fact that it rated so highly with you, only amps up the anticipation factor on my end! What I really love about dystopia as a genre is that, regardless of the cause, these books usually focus on the people instead of the circumstance. It's part of why I love the show The Walking Dead so much (all zombie stuff aside --- it explores the human condition and society as a whole -- and it sounds like this book does the same. Also, what makes this one particularly scary, is how relevant and plausible the post-apocolyptic scenario actually is. I can't wait to read it!

  3. Great review, Kat! I really loved this one too.

  4. Aww, yay! I'm glad you liked this one too. Frankly, I was a bit terrified of it, because I've been burned so many times, but I loved the small scope and how it was just about survival. Also, the ending!

    It seemed like Lauren's contingency plan was to shoot her daughter when shit went down. Lauren's brand of crazy may have had her convinced she wouldn't die before her kid.



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