Review Copy Provided By Edelweiss and Riveted by Simon Teen in exchange for a fair review
I don’t know that I’ve spoken in such broad strokes about any given author but I think Neal Shusterman (in my opinion) has earned it. He is a genius. Other than still not having announced the release date of Toll <ahem>, he has done no wrong. Not to say he has written a perfect book but who has written a perfect book (leave Leigh and her band of crows out of this)? Anyhow, I’ve always said that Scythe and Thunderhead were right behind the Six of Crows duology as my favorite young adult books and a culprit as to why this blog even came to be. It is only fitting that Dry is the first time I return to said blog since a month-long battle with life.
This go around Neal Shusterman teaming up with his son Jarrod to take a 180 spin from his philosophical take on Utopia that tackled an essential question: What happens when society gets everything it ever wanted? With Dry, the pair paint an all to possible dystopian future that leaves southern without the most important thing in life: water.
We don’t really think about it all that much. Or maybe I didn’t. Gandhi went twenty-one days without eating and went on seventeen fasts during his lifetime to protest different causes. Cats can live two weeks without eating. Water? The average person and cat can survive about three days without water. THREE DAYS.
Think about what Target looks like right before 3-4 inches of snow. Better yet, a foot of snow. That is just snow. Now imagine if you went to make coffee and nothing came out of your faucet. For weeks. Possibly forever.
What makes Dry so brilliant is that it doesn’t hold back. It hits hard. Without spoiling anything specific, the Shusterman boys don’t hide from the harsh realities of humanity lost. We all like to think we know what we would do, how we would act in these kinds of situations. The truth is until we are in that situation, we don’t know what we will do or who we will become. Until our lives, our loved ones lives are on the line. Until it is literally life or death. Your life or someone else’s life? You don’t know what you are going to do.
Told from the perspective of Alyssa, her younger brother Garrett, their survivalist trained neighbor, Kelton, and and two acquired strangers: Jacqui and Henry. You expect that Jacqui and Henry are going to be suspicious, have hidden agendas and definitely be the manipulators in our group of would be survivors. However, part of what grips you and doesn’t let go is how Alyssa, Garret and even Kelton, who has been trained by his family since the womb for surviving apocalyptic situations, find pieces of themselves that they didn’t know existed. Some of their actions make them stronger and some of their actions make them repel against themselves in horror.
You just never know what you’ll do to survive until you have to do it.
The only missed opportunity in Dry is the ending. Without going into specifics, the ending doesn’t hold up to the brilliant ruthlessness of the rest of the book. If you think of TV shows like Lost or Twin Peaks. It is the same situation. They were brilliant shows. The endings just couldn’t do the show justice. For me, the ending was too neat and tidy. It was too quick. Yes there was loss but not enough. Maybe that sounds harsh but it was a harsh book. Shouldn’t it be?
Dry was dedicated “to all those struggling to undo the disastrous effects of climate change”. It was meant to send a message. For 360 pages it sent that message loud and clear. I wanted the ending to drive it home. I’m not saying everyone had to lose everything. Yes there was loss during the book, but in the end too many characters survived that shouldn’t have. To prove the disaster you can’t just show loss by the numbers, you have to show it by faces and names. That chance was lost in the ending. Otherwise, this is a book not to be missed. It should be read in every class by every adult and every government official.
Puerto Rico and Flint still don’t have drinkable, reliable, safe water. Who is paying attention? Three days. Three. That’s all it takes. It isn’t a matter of if. It is a matter of when and who. Somewhere will go Dry if we don’t do something now. Reading this book, starting the conversation and turning it into actionable, formidable steps before the first tap-out is the only way.