Not a Drop to Drink

320p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Sept. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219850-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219852-5.
Gr 8 Up—In the not-too-distant future, water has become scarce. Those who carve out their lives in the wilderness will fight to the death to protect the water on which they've staked their claim. Lynn and her mother are good shots, picking off stray travelers who are tempted by their pond. Cholera outbreaks throughout the world mean that even when water is available, it could be deadly, and the 16-year-old and her mother spend their days purifying the pond water, hunting for food, persuading meager crops to grow, and standing sentry on their roof to guard against strangers. After her mother is killed by coyotes, Lynn tries to be self-reliant, but she knows that in time the men from a nearby settlement will attempt to seize her land. When her taciturn neighbor Stebbs offers help, she slowly opens herself to his friendship, and her lifelong solitude is further fractured when she meets a family that is trying to survive on the banks of a nearby stream. Lynn grows attached to the little girl and takes her into her home when Lucy's mother, who is starving and in labor, is unable to care for her. Lynn finds herself drawn to Lucy's uncle, who is about her own age. Things come to a head when Lucy becomes deathly ill and the band of men from the nearby settlement attack Lynn's house. An overreliance on expository dialogue leads to clumsy and unnatural-sounding exchanges. The story might appeal to teens who can't get enough of dystopian survival stories, but in a crowded field, this one offers nothing new.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

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