Good dystopian books always detail the impossible from a possible series of events and this young adult novel is an ideal example of this.
Much like the likes of George Orwell’s 1984, Jarrod and Neal Shusterman have written the future of California when the water runs out and the taps run dry. Alyssa watches her whole world fall apart as life’s most important resource disappears almost instantly from her life and the fallout, both to her and California, is catastrophic.
The best part of this fiction is that it could quite possibly be the truth; in an increasingly climate-aware world, running out of water is a real possibility (you only have to look at South Africa). For this reason, I would consider this tale almost a horror story, one that leaves readers reeling from the possibility of this happening to themselves.
Stylistically, this plays out in a series of first person, chapter by chapter accounts of what is going on. Shusterman and Shusterman have their young characters face challenging, but not unlikely scenarios that leave them wondering if the adults really know what is going on… and perhaps that they don’t know best when it comes to the end of the world. Perhaps the worst part of this story is the behaviour of the adults themselves, some of which will have adult readers shaking their heads in disbelief.
The book is action-driven and exciting, enough the sate even the most unwilling of teenage readers. I commend the authors on having both male and female protagonists, which may not seem important but helps make the book more universally appealing. I also commend their use of a very real issue to drive the story, something that teenagers are finding themselves concerned about. Hidden within this uncomfortable tale, is a lesson that we need to care for our resources because they are not infinite.
If you’re looking for a book that will keep your middle-teenaged person in your life glued to the pages, then I can recommend Dry to whet their appetite. Punchy, fast-paced and full of fun little quips, Shusterman and Shusterman have done an excellent job crafting a novel based on relevant and timely concepts.
Hauntingly memorable and unnerving to read.
Reviewed by Zoe Butler
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Walker Books Australia
Released: October 2018