Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink.
In the three years that I have been blogging, and the fifteen years that I have been reading, I have never read a survival story quite like this one. I’ve told everyone before that I love survival stories, but unfortunately a lot of them tend to be bogged down with romance or unnecessary drama. That’s not the case with Not a Drop to Drink. It’s about survival, pure and simple. And it’s exactly what I needed.
Mindy McGinnis captures your attention within the first couple of paragraphs, giving you an idea of how Lynn and her mother have had to struggle for years to defend their only source of water. From the first sentence, you immediately get the impression that Not a Drop to Drink is going to be a tough and brutal read. It turned out to be exactly that. Not a Drop to Drink deals with morals and humanity, and who you are at your core.
Lynn was a fabulous main character, and her character development throughout the novel is set to rival many. She starts off as rather sheltered, after only having known her mother for the first one and a half decades of her life. She’s been taught to shoot to kill, and to basically take no prisoners. As the novel progresses, though, Lynn learns that the world is so much bigger than just her and her mother. She slowly learns to let people in, and by the end of the novel she has her own little family. The road from questionable innocence to what Lynn becomes is a tough one, but one that totally captured me from the beginning.
Lynn’s mother is also an interesting character to read about. She has sheltered Lynn her entire life when it comes to some things, but she didn’t hesitate to teach Lynn how to take down a grown man with a rifle. In any other circumstances, Lynn’s mother would get carted away for bad parenting, but in this post-apocalyptic world it is clear that Lynn’s mother felt it was a necessity to raise Lynn the way she did. There is very little water for those who are not living in the tightly controlled cities, and to survive Lynn and her mother have to protect their pond. There is no other option.
In addition to writing great characters, Mindy McGinnis also wrote some fantastic descriptions. I was pulled into the world through McGinnis’ prose. The gory scenes were something that especially stood out to me. The descriptions were vivid and vile, and at some points I thought I was going to throw up. And I can handle gore, you guys. I love it. But the scenes in this novel made my stomach churn, and I thought I was going to throw up my dinner.
I enjoyed the way the romance was handled in Not a Drop to Drink. It was different to most other YA books that I have read before, in the sense that it’s hardly there at all. Instead of romance, McGinnis focusses on Lynn and her relationships with several characters, instead of just one. In fact, I don’t even remember the love interest’s name. That’s how relevant he was to me. He was important, I feel, for Lynn’s character development, and he wasn’t just thrown in there because publishers seem to require every YA novel to have a romantic relationship.
There was an epilogue that skipped forward a few years into the future, which I actually really liked. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with epilogues, especially since after Harry Potter, everyone and their cat started including them in their novels. And they don’t always work, which is why I usually end up hating them and wishing I had skipped that part. But the epilogue in Not a Drop to Drink was good. I loved seeing where everyone ended up after the final battle, and it did a good job of concluding Lynn’s development and showing how far she had come.
I highly recommend Not a Drop to Drink, because I think it’s one of the few survival or post-apocalyptic novels that manages to pull everything off. The fact that it’s not a love story disguised within the current YA genre trend pleases me, and I love that Mindy McGinnis chose to focus on the main character rather than just use her to tell a ridiculous love story that started out as a wet dream. Read it! I’ll definitely be picking up McGinnis’ future releases, if there are any, because if they’re anything like Not a Drop to Drink then they will be fabulous, and hopefully just as brutal.