Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
Given the strange times we are in, what kind of reader would I be if I didn't pick up an apocalypse story? I still wanted to go for something far removed from a global pandemic, so a drought can suffice.
The drought, otherwise know as the tap-out comes with a long list of do's and don't's: don't shower, don't water the plants. But there is no water left at all as the taps run dry. We follow a group of young friends as they try to survive when their quant suburban town turns to chaos, making impossible life and death decisions to survive. A young adult apocalypse book sounds quite specific. I was worried that they would shy away from the gore and the desperation of the situation due to the book being aimed at a younger audience, but there is still a lot of content in here that would massively appeal to an older audience. I don't have much to compare it to, however I am now entirely devoted to the idea of reading as many apocalypse books as I can get my hands on. Some of the opening scenes of rushes at a supermarket (to stock up on water, not toilet paper) were eerily familiar to news clips when our own 2020 disaster hit. I enjoyed reading about an insane situation that was somehow relatable!
The chapters are set from different perspectives, so we follow multiple characters as they navigate how to deal with their families and one another when they are united as well as torn apart. We have some typical personalities here: the nerdy boy who is completely prepared, the rebel girl who is older than the others and has a mean streak, the main protagonist who all the boys yearn after, her hopeless younger brother, and the selfish rich kid. As much as these are predictable characters (nothing about them is outside of what you would expect), they are also tried and tested. In an adventure story with a group of young teens, these stereotypes work well as an ensemble, showing scenes when they work well as a team and conflicts that cause rifts in their journey for survival.
The story is well paced and has a good mixture of sad, dramatic and funny moments. My only critique is one that is just personal to me: I would prefer for the story to be about a group of adults, not a group of teens. I think the story would pack a bigger punch if there was more range in the characters ages. The scenes that involved some of the parents were much more interesting, as they're logic and way of thinking is vastly different to a group of kids. Additionally, the ending fell flat and didn't feel truly conclusive. But I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading Dry and will seek out others in this genre to keep looking for the perfect end of the world story.
Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: 1 October 2018
Publisher: Walker Books
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
# of Pages: 399