Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis
(4.5)

Content warnings:
rape (implied)

So there's this big city called Entargo. Water is so scarce now that population schedules have been created: only one child per couple. Couples who have more are kicked out of the city and are left to survive on their own on the outside, where people will kill for a drop of water.

Sounds like your typical dystopian YA novel, right? Interestingly enough, Not a Drop to Drink really isn't that book; the only reason I know all that is because it was in the backstory of someone Lynn, the main character, met about halfway through her story.

Lynn is a girl who knows next to nothing about the big city and who's made it on the outside with her mother for her entire life. There could be a Katniss Everdeen doing her large-scale rebellion thing inside Entargo, but this story's concentrated on the world of Lynn's little pond and the stream nearby. That's what makes this book really stand out.

This book is beautiful and harsh and heartbreaking. I think it works so well because it's so well contained in its small-scale setting and plot. Characters grow, relationships change, and the reader experiences it all in real time with the characters. It definitely doesn't shy away from being brutal, though, and there are moments I couldn't believe were actually in a young adult novel. Sure, it's a trend or something to be as gory and violent as possible to be "dark" and “edgy,” but for some reason experiencing some of the things in this book felt more real and heartbreaking instead of something for shock value or effect.

Lynn's character growth is one of the most beautiful arcs I've read in a young adult book in a long time. I can't wait to see how she'll grow it in that next books if this is how McGinnis writes her in just the first one.

The only criticism I can think to say is that I wish I had more of a connection to Mother, but she felt more like an idea to me rather than an actual person and character.

In any case, I can't wait to read the second installment.