Saturday, December 28, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

"It's not for sins committed
My heart is full of rue,
but gentle acts omitted,
Kind deeds I did not do."
-Robert Service

This was SUCH A GOOD BOOK. It's got that dystopian element, except less fantasy or science fiction. I don't normally go for that, but there is lots of great action and many emotional moments. Even though some of it is sad, most of the book is really sweet and hopeful. It's also a rare stand-alone book, so you don't have to track down previous books or wait around for a sequel. Really, there are so many reasons why you should read this very awesome story.

Not a Drop to Drink is set in a bleak future America where water has become scarce. Lynn and her mother are devoted to guarding the tiny pond on their farm. Lynn has been taught to spare no one who attempts to drink, whether animal or human. The pond keeps them alive, and their lives revolve around protecting the pond and purifying and storing the water.

After Lynn is left alone, her world expands. She actually talks to the old man from the neighboring farm, formerly known as "that asshole" by her mother. They discover some refugees from the city, people who don't know how to take care of themselves in the wild. These people beg Lynn to take their little girl, Lucy, until they can learn how to survive. There are also very bad men who appear, wanting the pond and also things that Lynn doesn't understand.

Lynn was very likable. She was very sheltered. Her only contact had been her mother for so many years. It can be hard to balance sheltered and ignorant, but she never came off as stupid. I enjoyed seeing her transform from a protective super soldier to a caring protector. Lynn didn't want to take Lucy at first, but she does so well with the kid. I really loved her reactions from Lucy's uncle, Eli. Eli was flirtatious and adorable. For instance:

"You're used to things like matching furniture?"
"Oh, yes, a coordinated dining room," Eli said, fake wistfulness creeping into his tone as he ran his fingers over the tabletop.
"I miss it more than tap water."

There was also an adorably awkward sex talk with the grizzled neighbor. She learns why those bad men were staring at her. She also learns what men can do to hurt women. That's what happens when you open yourself up to people. You get the good and the bad. Those who need your help and will help you in return, then those who will only hurt and take. You can close yourself off, like Lynn's mother did for so long, but then you may be safe but you are also missing out on a lot of good. 

Not to spoil too much, this book does have a happy ending. It's about as happy as these books get, anyways. It wasn't quite the ending I wanted, but it was happy, so I'll take it.

I received my copy of Not a Drop to Drink from Edelweiss, courtesy of Katherine Tegen Books. It's available for purchase now.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bubble World by Carol Snow

Bubble World is yet another book that pulled me in with its description, then turned out to be something else entirely. The synopsis made it sound like a standard dystopian plot. It's about an island where life is completely perfect, then stuff gets weird. I admit that it doesn't sound very original, but the actual plot is much more interesting.

Freesia lives on the island of Agalinas. Her life is completely perfect. She has a closet full of beautiful clothes, a loving family, lots of friends, and parties to attend every night. One day while looking at her perfect self in the mirror, Freesia gets a glimpse of a short, dumpy, and definitely imperfect girl. That's when things start falling apart.

A day actually repeats itself, and all kinds of glitches start to show. It turns out that Agalinas is actually a virtual reality created for young adults who have trouble living in the real world. Freesia's computer malfunctions and she wakes up to find that the dumpy girl is her. Her real family is a far cry from her virtual family, and real school is much more difficult to grasp. I really liked seeing Freesia learn to cope with reality, and I especially liked seeing her learn to make her less perfect self more fabulous.

What really interests me about Bubble World is that it seems like something that could realistically happen. Kids having trouble fitting in? Kids being bullied? Just hook those suckers up to a computer and all their problems are solved. As a bonus, you don't even have to interact with them until they go to college, and not even then, because virtual colleges are in development.

Bubble World ended up being a good surprise. Before I knew the whole story, I wasn't a big fan of Freesia. Afterward, I really liked her. Her entire world was shattered. She goes from fake perfection to genuine reality. The issue rises over which choice is better. You'll have to find out how it all ends in the book.

I received my copy of Bubble World from Edelweiss, courtesy of Henry Holt and Co. It's available for purchase now.