I bought this book online and am sharing my honest opinions.
04.10.2018 / Walker Books / Environmental Thriller / Paperback / 416pp / 978-1406386851
Target Audience: Readers that are looking for an intriguing thriller centred around dwindling resources. With the classic Shusterman approach to developing multiple characters at once and tense narratives that grip you until the very last moments of the book.
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, a group of teens is forced to make life and death decisions in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman, and Jarrod Shusterman.
The drought – or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. Until the taps run dry. Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbours and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return, 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.
My Review of Dry
Neil Shusterman astounded me with his Arc Of The Scythe series. Scythe and Thunderhead are two of the most gripping, exciting and varied novels I have ever read. When I heard that Neil was collaborating with his son Jarrod on a new novel, I quickly jumped on the chance to read it. If I didn’t already know that Dry was a joint effort, I would have been surprised if you told me. The writing is seamless, well developed and contains those classic Shusterman elements that I was looking for. Plenty of characters, an intimidating and suspenseful backdrop and interesting themes. Dry is an intriguing localised apocalypse novel that explores the consequences of our ever-depleting resources finally running out. Our concerning complacency in this issue is evident in everyday life and most of us are sure of the fact that when we get up in the morning, our taps will produce the water we need to survive. Dry shows us what happens when it doesn’t.
The novel follows Alyssa and Garrett from day one of what Southern California are calling the Tap-Out. A complete shut off of the water supply to the area. A government sanctioned event that leaves everyone uninformed and scared. The panic ensues and, in trying to secure fresh water for the family, Alyssa’s parents never return home. After exploring the area trying to find them, it dawns on Alyssa how bad the situation truly is. The streets are rife with rioting, panic and suffering. Relying on their intense doomsday neighbours to stay safe Alyssa and Garrett try to survive long enough to see their parents again. When the situation reaches breaking point, the group is forced to escape to a new location. But with barely enough water to survive, how far will they get?
I enjoyed Dry. It had a solid cast of characters that each brought an edge to the journey these young people are embarking on. As the situation worsens we get to see these individuals change over time (for better or worse) and the Shusterman’s have done a great job with the shock and awe side of the narrative. The imagery that the writing conjures in the mind was fantastic and it did stop me in my tracks many times. Each attempt at finding answers just leading to more questions and the need to adapt to survive. There is a lot of dark themes hidden within these pages that slowly reveal themselves as people slowly become ‘water zombies’. Parched, desperate and powerless to save themselves and their loved ones.
The plot is revealed from several perspectives including Alyssa, Garrett (kid from next door), Jacqui (a street smart control freak) and several others. I really liked the snapshot sections that took us away from the main narrative and showed us different perspectives on the chaos from people all over the area. It really added depth and scale to the event. Drawing us further in to the situation. It is strange to think that this scenario is a very real outcome of our frivolous wasting of resources. The scenes shown here are not a far stretch from reality and it gave the story a very different dimension. There are countries that still don’t have access to running water even in 2019 and they are living like this day-in-day-out, not knowing where the next drop is coming from.
Dry is a fascinating thriller that explores the effects of dehydration on the body, the mind and society itself, but it is also a pause for thought. An opportunity to reflect on out current choices and either avoid or accept what will happen down the road. If you like your fiction with a decent helping of reality served on the side then Dry is for you. A character driven narrative, provocative themes and showstopping imagery await those who delve into the pages of Dry.
Our Buddy Chat Discussions
Stuart: All set for tomorrow if you are 😃
Beth: Sure am! How would you like to divide it up? 😁🤗
Stuart: Bit random but if we go 102, 193, 309 and finish that should work out.
Beth: Great! See you soon! 🤗
Stuart: It’s so intense already 😂 I’m only on page 22!
Beth: Haha I know I’m on the edge of my seat! p50 here. 😆
Stuart: There are going to awkward and cruel situations in this book isn’t there… 😟
Stuart: I’m ready 😁 What a place to stop!
Beth: On a late shift today but should be at the checkpoint later on this evening? That scene in the supermarket?! 😱
Stuart: Just the beginnings ☹
Beth: Wow you’re right that was such an intense place to stop, especially that last line!! Want to talk about it tomorrow as it’s quite late now?
Stuart: We are off to a good start already I think. Some solid characters, Alyssa is smart and confident, Kelton is a bit weird but hopefully he will transform over the story. I really like the little snapshot pieces, classic Shusterman Snr. How are you finding thw story?
Beth: I’m enjoying it so far! Finding it slightly more difficult to get to grips with all the different characters in the snapshots but do really love how this is done – I think it just brings an extra edge to proceedings when we pan out and focus on other people that aren’t our immediate protagonists. I’m enjoying Alyssa more as a character but Kelton is certainly intriguing, especially how him and his family have prepared!! 🤔
Stuart: Yeah I think Kelton could go either way right now. That imagery at that very last moment was amazing, it was a serious turn of events. Yeah the snapshots definitely build up the tension and paint a more vivid picture of the situation. How are you feeling about the plausibility of the whole situation?
Beth: I think the scariest part of it is that it could potentially happen, especially with the threat of climate change the way it is at the moment! I thought the dedication at the beginning was interesting- “to all those struggling to undo the disastrous effects of climate change.” 😐
Stuart: I keep going over it in my my head wondering if it could actually get that bad but it really could. People, myself included, are complacent about such matters, thinking there is an endless supply of water out there. I am interested to see what the ‘impossible decisions’ are that the characters are going to have to make. Please don’t let the dog die 😔
Beth: I know! The Shusterman’s will have a lot to answer to if they let that happen! 😓🐶 I think with what we’ve seen so far it’s only going to get darker and more desperate as people go to extraordinary lengths to get something to drink, right?
Stuart: Have you read Nod by Adrian Barnes yet?
Beth: Not yet but should I? I’ve just read the synopsis on Goodreads and I think I need to read it ASAP!
Stuart: Definitely. If this turns out to be similar to that then we are in for a rough time. I will never forget Nod, I highly recommend it to everyone. I am intrigued by how much each Shusterman contributed to the overall writing. What do you think?
Beth: It’s really hard to tell isn’t it? I’d love to know their writing process. It can’t be that Shusterman Jnr provided the YA aspect as we know Neal can already do that as he’s proved with Scythe and Thunderhead! 🤔
Stuart: Well I’m sure we will be able differentiate between the two in the later acts. I like the gravity of this book. It is meaningful and relevant which makes it all the more worth reading. Any thoughts on the parents?
Beth: I feel like we’ll have a lot more to come from them? Particularly Kelton’s – I think there might be hidden depths there that we may find out. I could be reading far too much into it though! 😆
Stuart: That means they aren’t predictable at least. Classic Shusterman. Shall we continue?
Beth: What a good idea. See you at p193! 😁
Stuart: The beach and the phones, that caught me off guard. Amazing!
Stuart: Well that got very dark very quickly 😬
Stuart: I’m ready when you are!
Beth: I’m ready! Thanks for the info, that was a great article. I’d love to know more about their writing process. 🤔 I can’t believe how much things have developed since we last spoke. 😱 Everything is completely falling apart isn’t it? What do you think of the addition of Jacqui?
Stuart: Jacqui was an interesting development and she is definitely going to be a spanner in the works. Always putting herself first. What about the situation with the front door! That was just cruel! Turning their defence into complete tragedy.
Beth: I know! That was a twist I certainly didn’t see coming. I do love how they mention “water zombies,” did you? 😆 Do you think it’s a realistic depiction of the way people act when they get desperate?
Stuart: I didn’t initially like the reference but your right it does describe those people very well! I could imagine those not so civilised meetings like the one Alyssa dropped the water off at. The imagery at the beach stopped me in my tracks. The ringing of the phones, that poor boy, any predictions on the parents yet?
Beth: I know that was so sad…and the way the phone was buried 😣 The question of the parents is interesting. For some reason I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them but for where they are now? Difficult to say. I feel that there’s something maybe a bit more malevolent at work here as they’re not the kind of characters to just disappear. How are you finding the character development so far?
Stuart: Kelton is by far the most developed. He has changed non-stop throughout the story so far and I am intrigued where the Shustermans might be going with that. I don’t think Alyssa and Garrett have developed as much as I would expect but with the wildcard of Jacqui in the mix, challenging everyone, anything could happen. I can’t decide if she is as badass as she thinks she is or if it is all show?
Beth: I’m hoping we get to learn a lot more about her as the story continues, from what we’ve heard already she’s had quite an interesting past and I think the badass part is a total front to hide the more vulnerable side of herself and just to survive?
Stuart: She has been surviving long before the tap-out. She has intelligence, lets just hope she has a heart too. The gang are off to a new setting, should we continue on?
Beth: For sure. See you soon 😁
Stuart: Ready again. Had plenty of time to read today!
Beth: I’m ready too! Well – one thing I should always expect from Shusterman (at least, the older Shusterman) is the unexpected. He always manages to surprise me. Now we have ANOTHER loose cannon in the mix! What do you make of the very intriguing Henry? 🤔
Stuart: I like him. He is even more mysterious than Jacqui. Shusterman is great at keeping fluid narrative whilst attaching completely new characters which is something I loved about Scythe. Henry stirring the pot like that at the end, he is trouble! I was glad to see Herb again in that Snapshot 😅. Can we trust this new group?
Beth: I know!! I knew he was going to do that as soon as he got that information 😳 he is DEFINITELY looking out for himself and using the info he picks up to his advantage but I do think he has hidden depths and a big heart too. But Jacqui is becoming a lot more interesting isn’t she? How about the things that were left at Daphne’s bedside?
Stuart: I know, she has a bit of a Robin Hood ethos I think. That scene at the evac centre. I like how Henry sees it as a threat and Kelton acts like it is completely normal. Chilling in reality. I feel like a fight is brewing within the group, do you?
Beth: For sure, there are a lot of tensions and there’s three characters that are kind of trying to take the reins of leadership for themselves. So many things simmering below the surface, I have a feeling things are going to kick off royally!!
Stuart: Any issues with the book so far?
Beth: Not so far…I’m enjoying it but preferred the Scythe series. That however is my only complaint. How about you?
Stuart: I’m the same 😂 I’m glad you said that. My issue is expectation. I have gotten used to soaring epicness that is the Arc Of The Scythe series that Dry just doesn’t meet that momentum. It is a great read but the moments here don’t have that same punch. In my opinion… 😂
Beth: Tell me about it dude 😅😴 there are moments of brilliance but it hasn’t had the same impact like you said when compared to the Scythe series. Shall we see how it finishes? I’m struggling to see how everything can be wrapped up in 100 pages!! 😆
Stuart: Let’s do it!
Stuart: I’m ready when you are! That heated up very quickly! Excuse the pun…
Beth: Haha it sure did! 😅 wow that ending was action on top of action wasn’t it?!
Stuart: That was an ingenious moment right at the last second I have to say. Really summed up the novel really well. Poor Jacqui though. Well Dry was a pretty decent read for me, how about you?
Beth: Yes and even though it was kind of wrapped up with a little bow at the end I was quite pleased about the ending – it certainly could have ended a lot differently! Don’t you think the reappearance and explanation of the parents was just a bit too sudden though? If I had to sum it up I’d say Dry was a really engaging, thrilling read with some fantastic characterisation and a thought provoking message about climate change. What would you say?
Stuart: I tried not to dwell on the explanation of the parents too much as it brought up to many questions like why a municipal building like a police station had running water yet didn’t seem to utilise it, that brings up too many ifs and buts. Dry for me was an interesting localised disaster novel with some intriguing characters and eye-opening themes. To think that this could be one of the many issues we face in the near future, it definitely packed a punch.
Stuart: It was easy to believe that other states would just look on in indifference to others needs until it was too late and the damage was done. We have become rather complacent in these sorts of matters, I just hope we are actually more prepared than they were in the novel!
Beth: I know it was quite frightening wasn’t it? I’m a bit pessimistic in that way, look at how the country reacts to a little bit of snow, we’re not prepared at all! 😆 Henry became quite an interesting character in the end didn’t he?
Stuart: That moment was hilarious, typical wannabe hero 😂. You’re probably right about our preparation… Each character went through an evolution of sorts which was good. I thought Garrett’s arc was the most surprising, unsettling and moving too. Who surprised you?
Beth: I think they all went on a kind of journey especially as you say Garrett but I think for me Kelton had the most surprising moments as Jacqui and Henry were always kind of loose cannons. I would have liked to learn more about Jacqui though – her character really intrigued me!
Stuart: I’m glad she had a little mention at the end. What did you think of the writing overall? Well balanced?
Beth: I did! It doesn’t seem like it was written by two different people, it reads smoothly and isn’t disjointed in any way. What did you think?
Stuart: Yeah I agree. Solid writing, I liked how everything connected well. It was satisfying to see the snapshots get integrated into the narrative such as the water angel. Snr and Jnr make a good team. Stand out moment?
Beth: Yes I really enjoyed the snapshots too. Hmm. Stand out moment for me would be when they reached the bug out. That’s when I really started to believe the hopelessness of the situation – how about you?
Stuart: The beach scene really stuck with me. Also the point after everything with the brothers in the forest was really intense and I was really on edge! Will you be recommending the novel to everyone?
Beth: I will! Maybe we should tweet Trump? 😆 I’d certainly like to see them team up on something else. It was such a smooth, seamless piece of writing.
Stuart: They are currently working together on making Dry into a movie. Maybe that’s why The Toll is taking so long… 😒
Beth: Ugh. But we need it NOW. 😬
About Neil & Jarrod Shusterman
Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty award-winning books for children, teens, and adults, including The Unwind Dystology, The Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, and Challenger Deep, which won the National Book Award. Scythe, the first book in his newest series Arc of a Scythe, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. He also writes screenplays for motion pictures and television shows. The father of four children, Neal lives in California. Visit him at Storyman.com and Facebook.com/NealShusterman. (Simon & Schuster Bio)
Jarrod Shusterman is the author of the short story “UnDevoured” in the bestselling Unbound. He writes for film and television, and his talents extend to directing films and commercials. He was the story producer on the television movie Zedd— Moment of Clarity, and he and Neal are adapting Dry for the screen. Jarrod lives in Los Angeles but enjoys traveling internationally, and is currently studying Spanish. He can be found on Instagram: @JarrodShusterman