Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman
I don’t read a lot of Young Adult work. I did when I was a young adult, and I know that there is a huge adult market for YA books, but they just aren’t my cup of tea.
I had heard a lot of buzz about this book with the film rights having already been purchased by Paramount. Neal Shusterman is an award-winning household name when it comes to Young Adult novels, and for good reason. Even just the blurb for Dry gave me goosebumps and it is no wonder that the rights were snapped up for it so quickly (as well as commissioning both Neal and his son Jarrod to write the script for it).
EVERYONE’S GOING TO REMEMBER WHERE THEY WERE WHEN THE TAPS RAN DRY.
The drought – or the tap-out as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of dont’s: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.
RIGHT? You can perfectly imagine the teen-dystopian-gritty movie that they are going to put together for this plot, can’t you?
It was without expectation that I dove headfirst into Dry and I am so happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised with this fast-paced, action-packed YA thriller. As soon as you start the book, the pace does not let up, not even for a moment. Each and every page, piece of dialogue and sentence is completely necessary to the story – there were no ‘filler’ bits, no fluffy side-plots that you need to try and follow, just good old ACTIONTHRILLEREXCITEMENT. Dry‘s strength lies with its plot. Plausible, timely and completely relevant, the crisis that the characters face in Dry is something that is not too far fetched for reality which makes the reading experience extremely different than if it was unrealistic, dystopian fiction.
Dry really made me wonder what I would do in that very same situation. I always joke to people that if I was ever in a survival situation, I have no skills that I could use to help myself or any other survivors around me. I’m not particularly fast, I panic easily, I cannot use a weapon (though admittedly I have never tried) and I’m not great with directions. Straight off the bat in this book, the main character, Alyssa, has a great idea for an alternate way to source water than from straight out of a bottle. I would never have thought to do this. Because Dry was so feasible, it really made me take stock of how I would react and what steps I would take towards survival.
I came up blank.
I would not survive.
I am a sucker for ‘survival’ type situations, movies, television shows, books and scenarios and I found myself incredibly anxious to get to the end to find out what happens and whether they do, in fact, survive. I wasn’t too fussed on the characters, none of them really stood out to me. Much like my review of Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, I just wasn’t invested in any of them. I think that part of that has to do with the reason why I don’t read YA as a genre: I don’t feel as though I can relate to the characters or their stories. Also, I think that because Dry is so fast-paced, there just wasn’t enough time to craft deep and involved back stories for each of the characters. I was comfortable with the fact that I simply had to accept the characters for who they are with the information that we are given about each of them.
I am a huge fan of a story told from multiple voices so that was a plus for me. However, that was also double-edged as, because I wasn’t invested in the characters, and some significantly less than others, I found myself simply wanting to ‘get through’ some of the chapters. The character, Harry, I really didn’t enjoy reading and so for me, that took away from the reading experience as a whole.
Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed Dry for what it was – a fast-paced, enthralling and pretty-much-unputdownable YA read. I would recommend to my myriad of acquaintances (Kath and Kim reference for those of you who are uneducated in the Australian arts) confidently and excitedly. Also the cover is so darn pretty and looks damn good on my bookshelf.