Celeste_pewter's Reviews > Not a Drop to Drink

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
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it was amazing

** spoiler alert ** Two-second recap: In Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis taps into a very fundamental part of the human psyche - the need to survive against all odds. Through her deft writing style and expert plotting, readers will develop a strong kinship for Lynn and her motley band of survivors, as they battle for their survival.


Full review:

There are times when I'll read a book and I think: This book is destined to become a classic. This is the type of book that teachers will put into the hands of their students, intriguing and inspiring future students. I definitely felt like this with Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything, and I absolutely feel this way about Not A Drop to Drink.

This is a book that's very different from the other dystopians currently out there, and I genuinely believe that this book is destined to sit on bookshelves everywhere, next to books like A Separate Peace and The White Mountains.


Plot overview: (Keeping this vague, since I want others to surprised!)

For most of her life, Lynn and Mother have lived to protect their own corner of the world. Their entire livelihood has depending on defending their home, and the pond next to their home.

Lynn's more or less happy with the way of life that she's been taught by Mother - focusing only on the essentials - and focusing instead on their constant struggle to survive.

However, a series of events eventually challenges both Lynn's way of life and her worldview, leaving her to rebuild her understanding of almost everything around her, from the ground up.


Things that worked:

* The writing.

McGinnis writes with the confidence and ease of an accomplished writer. She also makes the interesting decision of writing in third-person, past tense. Without getting too overly analytical, I think this opens up the narrative in a way, which wouldn't have happened had it been in first-person or present tense. We're not constantly spending time in Lynn's head, alone with her thoughts and it makes it easier to sympathize with the situation.

* Characterizations

I think the best way to describe the way that McGinnis builds her characters, is to compare them to a Jackson Pollock painting. Picture the splashes of paint that Pollock throws onto his work. They're violent and stark, but still extremely beautiful to the human eye. That's exactly how McGinnis's characters appeared to me.

All of the characters - Mother especially - are very stark, but they also have a hidden beauty and strength. It was extremely rewarding for me to watch Lynn find her own inner strength, and begin to trust others and also realize that there can be a life beyond just the nearby fields and forest.

Similarly, I loved seeing other characters finding their own personal strength in different ways - whether it was Stebb's ability to encourage kindness out of others, or Eli finding his physical strength.

Also, something to consider about the characterization:

McGinnis's story unfolds in a way in which you do get to know the characters, but not in a way in which you'd get to know them in a traditional format.

While you do learn small things about the characters - e.g. Lynn knows (somewhat obscure) poetry because of all of the books that Mother has stockpiled around the house, she doesn't know what electricity-lit homes looks like - the primary focus of the book is always on how they react to the constant hunt for water and resources. McGinnis's approach reminded me of the storytelling on The Walking Dead in a way, and I thought it was an interesting (and the right!) choice for her to make.

* The world-building.

Unlike other books, the world-building in the book isn't overly detailed. We're given strong explanations for how the world ended up the way it ended up, but it's McGinnis definitely doesn't make it a point to offer the small details that you might find in other books.

Again, I think this is a very specific choice by McGinnis that works - she's essentially encouraging us to concentrate solely on the setting of the story, and Lynn's key points of residence and surrounding areas, specifically.

And while I hate to keep bringing up the The Walking Dead, but McGinnis method is very similar to how they focus on very specific settings on the show - e.g. the prison.

* Plotting

McGinnis keeps the plot moving along at a brisk pace. There aren't any of the usual dramatic!explosions!mass deaths! that you might find in a typical dystopian, and the book is all the stronger for it. Instead, the shocking moments are very human-driven. Ultimately, I think this adds more heart and impact for the story that McGinnis is telling.

* Finally,

The cover. It's beautiful, intriguing and eye-catching. A huge bravo to the cover designers at Harpers/Katherine Tegen books.

(Suggestion though: for more popular advertising, maybe advertise the book to younger fans of The Walking Dead? I think that the book will definitely appeal to those fans.)


Things that didn't work/Things to consider:


The only thing that I would have been interested in having McGinnis do differently, is to not have such a significant time jump between the final chapter and the epilogue.

So much of the book is about Lynn coming to terms with the fact that she no longer has to isolate herself from others, and it's okay to become a part of a community.

While Lynn does get to be a part of that community in the epilogue, I think it would have added to the story if we had seen more of the transitional period that she obviously experiences between the last chapter and the epilogue. However, just my opinion!


Final verdict: Not a Drop to Drink is unlike most of the current dystopians/speculative fiction books. I highly recommend this book for all readers, especially those interested in books with strong female protagonists.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Not A Drop to Drink from HarperCollins via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
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Reading Progress

February 22, 2013 – Shelved
March 21, 2013 – Started Reading
March 24, 2013 –
page 200
March 27, 2013 –
page 125
40.45% "Really liking Stebbs."
March 28, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley Thanks for such a great review!
You really told the story with out giving the book away, great job!

Could you message me how you recived the book for free(for the review....)
I have seen others doing this and I can never figure out how to get into it also...
Thanks again!! Keep up the great reviews !!!

Celeste_pewter Ashley wrote: "Thanks for such a great review!
You really told the story with out giving the book away, great job!

Could you message me how you recived the book for free(for the review....)
I have seen others..."

Hi Ashley! :) thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed my review!

I receive advanced reader copies from HarperCollins. There are resources on how to become someone who reviews books, just google. :)

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