Book review: DRY by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Water is life.

Imagine having no water to drink , shower, cook with, give to your pets, or use to flush the toilet, and being trapped and unable to get to any water. That’s DRY!

I needed a dystopian fix so I went looking for a recent Neal Shusterman book and I found this collaboration with his son Jarrod . DRY is not really dystopian, it’s a disaster tale. I ripped through the book as fast as my schedule would allow.

The Shusterman author duo came up with a thought-provoking and exciting story. I don’t know how much each one contributed to the book.

Father and son

Neal Shusterman wrote the Arc of the Scythe series that I loved, as well as the Unwound series. I couldn’t find very much personal information about Jarrod. His father Neal was born in 1962 , so his son is probably in his 30’s. You can find Jarrod and his author wife Sofia on Instagram.

Climate

DRY is dedicated to those working to undo the effects of climate change. Since I don’t believe in manmade climate change, this turned me off, but I put that in the back of my mind and read the book anyway. I do believe in natural drought, poor planning , and manmade environmental destruction, as well as disasters brought by the wrath of God.

The story

The story is about a group of kids trying to survive a water shortage and resulting crisis caused by poor water management and long-term drought. California is getting its water from other states. These states decide without warning that they aren’t going to share anymore.

The unprepared public quickly learns how much water they use in their daily lives. The people who understand what is happening quickly clean out the stock of water at the local stores . Others are left high and dry. Within 24 hours the freeways are at a standstill when everyone tries to leave the city.

Then the authorities finally take action and begin desalination of ocean water and try to set up water delivery centers, but it’s all too little, too late. People are killing and looting and begging for water. In just a few days they begin dying from dehydration and contaminated water sources. Oh yeah, the power goes out, too.

The characters include previously unfriendly next door neighbors, a rebellious homeless teen, and a boy whose watched a few too many success videos and decides to profit from the disaster. One of the families is a prepper family.

All of the adults fail to do anything right in the chaos , so it’s up to the kids to save themselves from dying from dehydration. They are in a race for survival to get to a bunker where the prepper family has water stored. But many obstacles including roads filled with abandoned cars and soldiers with barricades, plus personal conflicts between the kids, work to prevent them from reaching their destination in time.

The most interesting part of the story is the different ways that people react to the crisis. For some it’s every man for himself. Others take charge and try to help. The previously civil neighborhood becomes a war zone when the prepper family refuses to share their supplies. When things get bad, people reveal their true selves.

The story is full of desperation, action and scene changes and gets intense towards the end . The writing makes you feel like a helpless observer who wants to bring water to these kids. I found myself feeling thirsty and wanting to go stock up on cases of water.

I won’t give away the ending. It was fairly satisfying , but I’m not sure if things would really turn out like that.

I did have some questions about whether this is a likely scenario. I like to hope that it wouldn’t go quite like this, but considering how inept California Governor Newsom is, you never know.

A real quote from a recent news story

This book was fiction, but obviously has a message. After reading it I did some quick reading about water issues. Besides an actual lack of rain, poor water management is a big part of the problem.

Have you read it ? What did you think?

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