In a Handful of Dust - Mindy McGinnis

Well, this world is just as cruel as I remember from Not a Drop to Drink.

Apparently this book takes place about ten years after the first one, and it follows Lucy instead of Lynn. Their camp by the creek is disturbed by an outbreak of polio, and because Lucy is suspected of being a carrier, she's exiled. Naturally, Lynn goes with her, and they both set their sights on California, where things are supposed to be more like it was before the Shortage.

In a Handful of Dust is definitely survival fiction more than anything else. The fact that at its core is two strong women is something I love to see.

But the lack of happiness and heartwarming moments in this book made it hard to read, and not in a good way. Hardship after hardship after hardship. Characters didn't seem to grow or change, they just bore each event with the same: "But you're Lucy, and I'm Lynn." It didn't seem to have the same power and effect as the first book did.

When Lucy and Lynn reached Las Vegas near the end, it just reminded me of a later season of The Walking Dead. Instead of keeping the story well-contained, it branched out to show a more broad view of its dystopian world, and ended up sacrificing a little bit of its originality. People are not to be trusted, everyone has ulterior motives, things are too good to be true, strong men are the ones in control, etc. etc. etc.

And the ending! I didn't like the ending at all. It was something that was foreshadowed throughout the entire book as something that was supposed to be a difficult decision for Lucy, but it ended up feeling like "eh, whatever, do what you wanna do." I know it's such a childish thing to think, but I wish I hadn't read this companion novel and just stuck with the ending of Not a Drop to Drink. It had a completeness that this one lacked. Lynn is still my hero, and she was left without an ending, which broke my heart.