March 26, 2014

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.
-from Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

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Mindy McGinnis' debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, is not your average YA dystopian novel. This story of survival takes place in a future where clean water is the most valuable resource. The only person Lynn has ever known is her mother and the only home she has ever known is their rural house made especially desirable because it has pond. Lynn and her mother do almost nothing but work toward survival, which includes shooting anyone who comes near their pond and threatens their home. But with suspicious smoke in the south, wildlife becoming more aggressive and the constant fear of fickle Mother Nature, Lynn must decide whether her mother's rules of survival are the best way to exist or if there is a better way.

I should have read this book the moment I read all of the great reviews when it came out last year. Not a Drop to Drink is especially fascinating because it reads more like a wilderness survival story than traditional futuristic dystopians. It reminded me more of Hatchet than The Hunger Games (even though THG has its fair share of survival content). Right from the start McGinnis shows that nothing is off limits and she's ready to send us on an emotional ride filled with the unexpected. It was an adventure that ripped my heart out more than once, but was well worth it for the message of hope and camaraderie it extends to the reader. 

There are a lot of different things to compare and analyze in this book which would make it a great book club recommendation. Mother's value system for survival versus the value system Lynn develops are important to compare. This analysis requires the reader to consider what we gain and/or lose when we help others. Similarly interesting to compare is the role of a mother and the various ways a mother takes care of her children. We see very primitive survival instincts to protect through Lynn's mother, but with other mothers in the book we see much more complicated expressions of love.

The romantic element of this book was perfect. Instead of overwhelming the story with romance, as many authors are wont to do these days, McGinnis proves that less is more by seasoning Not a Drop to Drink just right.The love story is made even more powerful by the fact that Lynn has barely interacted with people before (other than shooting them), much less been around boys her age. She doesn't even have a real understanding of what sex is at the beginning of the book because it's something her mother never needed to address. Her pure, raw innocence when it comes to romantic love and flirting makes her experience all the more fascinating and fulfilling to witness. While I would have surely enjoyed more romantic scenes, especially the flirtatious banter, I'm really pleased that McGinnis didn't sacrifice the integrity of the book by taking Lynn's main focus off survival.

My only serious complaint is fairly silly, so feel free to just skip this paragraph! But one of my biggest peeves with this book was that Lynn and Lucy shared the same first letter in their name, so sometimes I would mix them up in conversations with each other. I know this could be attributed to just lazy reading on my part, but given the fact that there are hardly any characters in this book, would it have been so hard for them to have more diverse names? Perhaps this is supposed to draw the reader into comparing them as girls growing up in their unique environment, but I think that comparison is pretty obvious without alliterative names. Did anyone else have an issue with this or am I just being silly?

Like I said, I think this would make an excellent book for a book club. The points of analysis are pretty obvious but would most definitely make for an interesting discussion. There is a lot to talk about and there is a lot of suspense throughout the book. It's also easily accessible to readers of all levels and backgrounds. I think if high schools had students read more books like this, kids might enjoy reading novels more!

Bottom Line: A must read, especially if you like dystopian adventure! Great for a book club because there's a lot to analyze and discuss. 4.5/5 stars.


  1. I'm glad you liked this one so much! I didn't review it, I think I'd give it 3 stars. I was a little more annoyed with the romance factor, I kind of switched between wondering if she trusted him too quickly because she didn't know anything or wondering if it was realistic because it would be exciting for her to learn about things? I had some other issues but nothing huge enough to remember at this moment. I think there's supposed to be another one, did you know that? I think the name thing didn't bother me, but I'm sure I did the same thing you did. I do that in books where characters have similar names, so I think I'm used to having to occasionally reread parts to see if it was the other character! Great review!

  2. I should definitely read this one soon!! I love survival stories (Hatchet was SO my favorite book in junior high).

    As for your pet peeve- I think it's totally valid. I went to a book signing and the author there talked about character names and how you have to be aware of names that start with the same letter or names that end with similar sounds because people get mixed up or annoyed.


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