26 November, 2011

Book Review: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

Published: January 2011, SOURCEBOOKS FIRE

Series: none
Source: Publicist, no other compensation given for an honest review

From Good Reads:
Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations.

My Review:
I read the premise for THE WATER WARS and it basically hit every spot that I like when I think about reading a dystopian or post-apocalyptic YA. What really caught my eye was that, although the girl meets boy was there, it seemed as if it would be more of an adventure story as opposed to a romance, that inevitably would introduce some kind of love triangle. I’m over love triangles, just for the sake of bad boy versus good or best friend that’s been ignored for years. But, I digress from my review.

This book started off really well. Cameron Stracher sets up a world that has experienced catastrophic environmental change, and now water is the most valued commodity. I liked the included inherent friction of humanity that occurs when something that everyone needs is in short supply. The government and even private citizens were not above damming rivers to the detriment of other citizens, and even clouds are taken from the sky for the water they hold.

One thing that went wrong for me was the convenience of rescue that Vera, Will and Kai encounter during their adventures. I don’t want to include any specific spoilers here, but it just seemed as if there was too easy an out whenever they were in danger. In this type of story, I don’t mind if the protagonists and her (or his) companions get a little hurt; in fact it helps with the idea that they have to really overcome some terrible obstacle. I like to see them work their way out of the problem, not just miraculously have a savior.

I liked Kai, the boy that seems to have an unlimited supply of water, know the government’s secrets about the water shortage, and gets himself kidnapped, which sets off Vera and Will on their journey. Kai was an interesting character, but unfortunately Vera was not as captivating. Something was missing with her, that I was just unable to connect fully with her as a character. There was no defining event that made me want to care whether she survived the trials, and perhaps because there was always a convenient rescue, I didn't need to entertain the idea that she might be in real danger.

I read this whole novel in just under 3 hours. I’m a fairly fast reader, but even for a moderate or slower reader, the action sequences keep the book moving. As well as the pace, the chapters, which are just long enough that I found myself reading more pages than I thought, but just short enough that I kept saying, “I’ll just read one more”, make this a book that I would suggest for a reluctant reader. THE WATER WARS is kind of science-fiction, dystopian, and post-apocolyptic lite.

While THE WATER WARS seemed like it just missed being a great book for me, I also think that there are plenty of readers who would enjoy it. There are pirates and government conspiracies and a great journey with a brother and sister relationship. The premise posits a future that we could all be facing sooner rather than later, and as a YA it is appropriate for younger teens, as well as opening up a contemporary fantasy world to readers that doesn’t have the world-building over taking the plot.

3.5/5 for plot
2.5/5 for characters
3.5/5 for language

My Rating: 9.5/15 (3 stars) Worth Trying

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