Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

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

Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnisIn a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Published by Katherine Tegen on September 23, 2014
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

One of the things I hate is when a sequel is announced after I’ve read the first book. Not a Drop to Drink was one of my favorite YA post-apocalyptics, but I was still disgruntled to discover I’d started yet another series. Even so, I enjoyed McGinnis’ story enough to be willing to try the next book. Plus, THOSE COVERS YO. The publisher calls In a Handful of Dust a companion, but it actually spoils the events of the first book, so be careful about that. It took me a while to get into In a Handful of Dust, but it was ultimately similarly satisfying and bleak.

Trying to remember Not a Drop to Drink was a big issue for me. In a Handful of Dust jumps ten years into the future and so I’m trying to remember characters who are the same but different. There have obviously been changes and I was hard-pressed to keep up with who was important with my memories of Not a Drop so far in the past. Eventually that got sorted, but I spent a while frustrated, trying to recall which characters I already knew.

The main character of In a Handful of Dust is Lucy, the adopted daughter of Lynn, the main character of Not a Drop to Drink. Lynn is now an adult, but just as practical as ever. I love that Lynn isn’t any softer than she was in Not a Drop. Though she’s a mother of sorts now and truly loves Lucy, she’s still not emotional or any less apt to kill first and ask questions later. Lynn is as hard-edged as she needs to be to protect herself and her kin.

Lucy, however, is a foil to Lynn. Despite what she’s been through, she retains a certain naivete and faith in other people. Raised for the last years by Lynn, Vera and Stebbs, surrounded by mostly good people, she expects those she meets to be good. She likes to give people the benefit of the doubt and to seek non-violent solutions. They’re almost character studies, highlighting the benefits of skepticism and of trust in such a scenario. Ultimately, both Lucy’s kindness and Lynn’s mistrust come in handy, but I think Lynn’s really built to survive.

What I do love about this series is that McGinnis is brutal, sort of like Lynn. There’s nothing easy or convenient about life in her novels. Often, YA post-apocalyptics aren’t all that brutal. People die, but no one we care about, and ultimately the situation is resolved and normal life resumes, all while giving the main character a sexy romance. Not so with McGinnis, who obviously hates romance and wants to show a realistic scenario, by which I mean a horrifying one.

The one aspect that didn’t really work for me was the minimal romance. It wasn’t intended to be romantic, but it was a bit plothole-ish to me at times. Lucy was starting to have feelings for this boy, Carter. What the blurb doesn’t mention is that he’s also sent out of the community for the same reason as she and Lynn. However, he doesn’t know what to do and follows her. Lucy promises to leave him food and water, so he won’t starve, and tries to keep Lynn from moving to fast so he gets left behind. Then some stuff happens and she and Lynn end up moving REALLY quickly, but she never really gives thought to the fact that she’s just left him behind. This is picked up again later, but the fact that he wasn’t considered for so long bugged me. Ultimately, I liked the resolution to Carter’s story, but I think Lucy’s feelings were inconsistently handled.

If you enjoyed Not a Drop to Drink, I think that In a Handful of Dust will likely please you as well. McGinnis’ series is a good choice for those who like their post-apocalyptic fiction truly bleak.

Favorite Quote:

“I’ve never felt more or less of a woman because of a man.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif stupid desert

2 responses to “Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis”

  1. Yeah, I was majorly disappointed to hear that Not a Drop had been turned into a sequel. I’m skeptical over whether I want to pick this up but your review does help, knowing at least that it’s a worthwhile read. 🙂
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – The Dead Lands: A Novel by Benjamin PercyMy Profile

  2. I also thought it was more a sequel than a companion. I read this book right after Not a drop to drink, but I can see how it’s difficult when you read them with some time in between. I loved how this book focused on Lucy, but I’m also happy with Lynn. She is still a great character. I’m not someone who needs romance, but I agree. It felt a bit sloppy how she treated the romance here. Nevertheless, I really liked this book too.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…7 Deadly sins tag.My Profile

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