Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinniss

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnissNot a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #1
Published by Katherine Tegen on September 24, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
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four-stars

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

About a year ago, I couldn’t get enough of the dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels that were flooding the market. However, the sub-par offerings wore me down, and now I’m very wary of reading any of them. Positive reviews of Not a Drop to Drink convinced me that I needed to give this one a shot and I am very glad I did. Mindy McGinnis’ debut novel stands out from the crowd with its quiet focus and daring.

In an eerily possible post-apocalyptic future, potable water is scarce. The bulk of humanity has clustered into cities, where purified water can be purchased at punishing prices. McGinnis doesn’t really go deeply into the reasons why this has come about, but Lynn, the heroine, doesn’t know either. The scale of the world building is quite small, limited to Lynn’s own view, and she doesn’t venture more than a few miles from her pond. Though this narrows the scope, McGinnis does this very effectively.

Where most post-apocalyptic or dystopian novels are highly dramatic and jam-packed with action, Not a Drop to Drink is subtler and quieter. Though there’s a lot of darkness here, McGinnis creates Lynn’s world view so effectively that everything, terrible or boring, feels like an ordinary part of daily life. Herein lies the strength of the novel. When Lynn and her mother kill men who approach their house in the night, it’s NORMAL; it’s not a good thing, but done with the same grim determination as a family barely making ends meet from month to month. McGinnis doesn’t cover what the whole world is doing, but establishes how a single girl might make a life for herself under these circumstances. The focus is the day in and day out of protecting the well, preparing for winter, and fending off those who would take from her.

Lynn killed for the first time at the age of nine. Her mother trained her well, and together they defend the pond that is their reliable water source, the most valuable possession they have. They trust nobody else, except partially Stebbs, who has a small cottage across a wide field. What’s so wonderful about the opening is that Lynn and her mother put their survival above everything else. Lynn’s mother’s cold practicality is well-summed up by this harrowing quote.

“Just know that there’s bad men in the world, and dying fast by your mother is a better way than theirs.”

Central to Not a Drop to Drink is Lynn’s emotional journey from being as cold and hardened as her mother to a caring individual, capable of trusting when warranted. However, and this really makes Not a Drop to Drink different from the standard dystopian offerings, Lynn’s softening doesn’t happen as a result of a romance. Instead, the biggest influences on her are Stebbs, who is one of the best mentor characters I’ve read, and Lucy, a young girl that Lynn can’t quite bring herself to leave to the elements. There is a boy, but he has much less of an impact on her than they do.

The way that Mindy McGinnis ended things really surprised me, largely in a great way. Unlike most YA post-apocalyptic novels, she actually kills off some protagonists, which I always love. The epilogue, however, was the one thing that I wasn’t sure about. It jumps so far in the future, and I don’t really know what to make of it.

Mindy McGinnis’ Not a Drop to Drink manages to be an original, beautiful read in an over-saturated genre. I highly recommend this for readers who appreciate good character arcs, a strong setting, darkness, and do not mind a slower pace.

Favorite Quote:

“I know you’re just saying what you think your mother would’ve wanted. Seemd to me you’re starting to grow a heart on your own, but every now and then you think of her and it kills it dead like frost to a seedling. You weren’t taught any different, but it used to be that people helped each other.”

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

girl with a rifle

10 responses to “Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinniss”

  1. Oh, I did so love this book. I loved the character development and the fact that it was different from the other dystopian titles out at the time. I was surprised to find there was going to be a sequel but I’m really looking forward to it.
    Becky LeJeune recently posted…Beach Blanket Bloodbath by Mark HenryMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I believe it’s more of a companion than a sequel, so I’m tentatively excited, even though I really don’t like standalones becoming series as a general rule.

  2. I really wanted to read this book, so I’m glad to read your opinion about it. I’m hoping to pick this up soon, when it is available in a paperback. (I’m too poor for hardcovers unfortunately).
    Sandra @ Sandra’s World of Books recently posted…Fluffy Reads Opening!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I totally understand waiting. It’s a rare book that will make me pay out for a hardcover, especially if there’s a chance I might not like it.

  3. Paulina says:

    The quote is great! I haven’t heard of this book before but I’ve added it to my to read list on goodreads and hopefully I’ll get my hands on it soon. Glad you enjoyed it!
    Paulina @ Tangled In Pages

  4. Gillian says:

    Oo, this makes me doubly glad I picked up the sequel companion thingy on EW. Which means I’ll get to this and I’ll probably enjoy it which YAY enjoying books
    Gillian recently posted…Review: House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie WhippleMy Profile

  5. I, too, have been turned off by dystopians lately. I just can’t seem to make myself want to read them. Not a Drop to Drink does seem like a worthwhile read, however. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Taylor @ Reading is the Thing recently posted…Introducing Turning Page MagazineMy Profile

  6. I was pleasantly surprised by this one as well. The ending totally had my floored and shocked but I was very impressed by the fact that McGinniss was willing to take risks. I cannot wait to read her next book.
    Ashley @The Quiet Concert recently posted…Top Ten Most Unique Books We’ve ReadMy Profile

  7. What I really like is that this concept is more realistic than some other post-apocalyptic books I’ve read so far. I could believe that one day, we run out of water. Most of the times I like having more world-building, but it seems like it’s not necessarily in this story. Good thing that the character development isn’t because of romance 🙂
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Let it go #1. Talker 25 & Tease.My Profile

  8. Lyn Kaye says:

    I respected this book because of the non-romantic angle. I liked that Lynn blossomed because of something more than a romantic relationship. Also, the quieter atmosphere really drew me in. I think that some authors forget that simply detailing every day living without our luxuries in still entertaining, and with the right care, can also captivate the whole dystopia feel.

    Lovely review!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Graphic Novel Review: Sailor Twain by Mark SiegelMy Profile

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