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Most Helpful Favorable Review
21 out of 36 people found this review helpful.
Ten Likes/Dislikes: 1. (+) Lynn, the protagonist - Kick-ass pro
1. (+) Lynn, the protagonist - Kick-ass protagonist extraordinaire. Lynn had to kill her first man at the age of nine (first line of the book - not a spoiler) and has always had to help her mother purify water for them to store and later drink. Help...
1. (+) Lynn, the protagonist - Kick-ass protagonist extraordinaire. Lynn had to kill her first man at the age of nine (first line of the book - not a spoiler) and has always had to help her mother purify water for them to store and later drink. Help her gather wood and cook the game that they muster before the winter chill sets in and forces them to hibernate in their all-too-vulnerable house. This has made Lynn into a pragmatic, no nonsense heroine who is willing to get the job done right and well even when the task is hard. Does that mean she's not emotional? Not at all. Given the things that Lynn has to do and given how she suffers, it's easy to identify with her and her struggles. And hey, this protagonist knows how to wield a shotgun. Knows to strip a body for goods and to take night watches on the roof of her house -- it's hard not to admire someone who's so determined, so smart and loyal and fierce and utterly competent.
2. (+) World-building - This is where the book excels. Mindy McGinnis paints a world that is so stark and realistic that it's frightening. Honestly, as she unveiled how the world degenerated, I realized that that kind of situation could actually happen. And you know it takes true talent to make that backstory and the individual details of the world itself come to life. You learn of Lynn's water purification system, the cholera endemic, and survivalist details like how to cure animals, how to witch water and set fires that don't just give off smoke. You learn about the city and its population standards and law makers and the wild where Lynn lives, and how the Shortage originated and was handled politically across the world. You learn about coyotes and gangrene and both the ugly and beautiful sides to nature. To contrast all the lovely details are random famous English poems (i.e. one from Yeats, some from Frost, etc.). The plot is firmly set in the little every day details of this world and what it means to live when water is in limited supply.
3. (+) Romance - Here's the thing: Eli doesn't do much for me as a romantic interest - we don't learn a lot about him - but I'm okay with that because the focus isn't on the romance, that side plot. The romance is good for what it is. A lightening factor. A thread of hope and love in a dark world, brimming with the stink of death and the chill of harsh winters. Eli is a city boy matched to the country girl, Lynn, and he teases her in such a way that immediately endears me to him. He never mocked Lynn for her ignorance, instead treating her with a soft kindness that made him adorable. He alternates between brave and desperate, teasing and gentle, secretive and real, but at the end of day, like Lynn, he's only trying his hardest for the ones he loves.
4. (+) Unconventional - You know that Frost poem that says "I took the road less traveled by--and that has made all the difference?" This book quotes that and quite appropriately given its unconventional context. For one, you've got a dystopia that doesn't involve a lot of action and isn't wholly symbolic a la Matched or poetic a la Wither. Instead you've got a dystopia that focuses on the harsh edges of humanity and the thin balance between survival and morality and meaning. You've also got a feminist bent on a wildly harsh, almost Western-esque (minus the Ohio setting) story and an author who's willing to take huge risks across the board. And because this book was so unconventional, I was honestly thrown for a loop when it came to some of the plot twists.
5. (+) Humor - If this story was only about survival, I probably wouldn't have been as interested or drawn to its characters. What makes this story work are the few bouts of humor, sometimes bleak and dark to fit the story but most of the times humor due to Lynn's ignorance. Having been raised in the middle of nowhere with only her Mother and paranoia for company, Lynn doesn't know how to flirt and has that awkward sex-ed talk way too late in her life. Yes, a lot of books have humor based on sexual naivete, but there's a wonderful authenticity to this shown in Lynn's pragmatism and no nonsense attitude except for when the right moment comes. It works well with the feminist aspects.
6. (+) Character Growth & Relationships - Particularly the strong female relationships - let me mention that off the bat; if you're looking for more strong friendships in YA lit, look no further than this book. In order to grow, Lynn must make open herself to strangers instead of blithely shooting at everyone who dares to approach. In doing so, she meets some particularly awesome characters who become her family, her meaning, her guides to how to live the life that she wants/needs but doesn't realize just yet. I thought that each of the relationships that Lynn had with the characters (even if I wanted more information on the characters themselves) was well developed.
7. (+/-) That Special Spark - Really, Not a Drop to Drink is everything the synopsis says the book is: Minimalist prose. Kick-ass, competent heroine. Not a lot of action, but a lot of thought-provoking details on the wilderness and how to survive and what it means to survive (the themes are really great, explored well and have the potential to be extensively discussed). This was a great read and executed well. However, it probably won't make my favorites list, because as much as I appreciated the quiet steadiness of this novel, a part of me also longed for more excitement. As usual, special spark = personal preference.
8. (+) Writing - The summary describes this writing well: there is not a single wasted detail on the setting, the labor involved in various tasks, etc. and when it comes to action? Ooh, the bloody images. McGinnis does not spare you, which of course fits with the survivalist feel. This also means for some beautifully simple yet evocative prose (Another low moan rose from the grass. "That was a good shot," Mother said, nodding toward it. / "Not good enough." / Mother shrugged. "It was dark." She rose and stretched out her stiff body, a sign that she truly felt safe. "You'll get better." / Another cry. Mother licked her finger, tested the wind, and fired once into the night. / Silence fell. (p. 21 in e-arc, quote may change later.)). There are also a lot of scene breaks.
9. (+/-) Pacing - Because this book focuses on the every day life of Lynn and the others near her pond, the times when things do happen seem to hit you in the face, if that makes sense. The book has a traditional, linear storyline in the sense that you can tell Lynn's got her character arc and that the book builds to a climax, but the climax, while epic and brutal, wasn't as long as I would have hoped and in between those spurts of action, I felt restless, wanting more.
10. (+) Cover - This is still quite possibly my favorite cover of 2013. The bold font, the symbolism in the colors, the depiction of the plot and the setting, Lynn standing on her roof, shotgun in hand. SO beautiful.
If you're a lover of the wilderness, of the scope of the settings in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, this book is for you. If you wanted less visceral, heart-pumping action from The Hunger Games and more focus on the survivalist aspects, this book is for you. In fact, some of the action reminded me of No Country for Old Men (the blood spatter! the hard choices! Lynn and her shotgun and spending "every minute living working against dying"), but this book also has a feminist twist. The author described this book as Little House on the Prairie on steroids, or LHotP meets The Hunger Games. These are both truly accurate descriptions, and although this book fell just short of being a favorite, I can do nothing but recommend it and hope that it flies off the shelves and gets well stocked at libraries.
posted by ChristinaReadsYA on September 24, 2013Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
6 out of 25 people found this review helpful.
posted by 8888649 on December 5, 2013Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2013
Too many plot spoilers too full of themselves rewriting the book including the reviewer with her synopsis and her likes and dislikes. Excuse me? We have the overview as a synopsis. We dont need your idea of a synopsis which includes giving away the entire book, and we really dont care about your likes and dislikes either.
6 out of 25 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 5, 2013
Another book where reviewers full of them selves believe we want
Another book where reviewers full of them selves believe we want to know how well they write and review.
Ten likes and one dislike! Really?
To all of you who think we just can't do without your wonderful synopsis, well, we can. And because of you, I won't read the book but since I must rate it, I give it one star. Probably unfair, but blame yourselves.
6 out of 55 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 12, 2014
Posted September 9, 2014
Lynn is one of the most unlikeable main characters I have ever r
Lynn is one of the most unlikeable main characters I have ever read.
Lynn is NOT tough (though she seems to think she is) she is a sociopath. And before you go thinking “that’s a pretty extreme jump to make” know that Lynn fits the description. She is violent, aggressive towards others, she struggles to make any meaningful connections to other people, she lacks empathy, she tolerates people when it benefits her, and has no remorse when she kills.
This isn’t the story of a tough-as-nails-rough-around-the-edges girl you can’t help but root for. It’s the story of a girl who is the pure product of her environment and nothing else. Lynn does not ever rise above the situation, she does not inspire or surprise anyone or wow the reader. If she did, THAT would be the kind of remarkable heroine you could like and root for.
I’m okay with main characters who kill but if you want me to care about that character I need to know that they have empathy and value for human life. I need to know that they don’t go gunning down people (even bad people) without realizing the gravity of their actions. It’s really as if Lynn looks for reasons to kill because that’s all she knows how to do. If she finds an excuse to kill you, she’ll do it. If she doesn’t have a reason, you’re okay, for now. Lynn isn’t a strong female leader she’s just a girl who knows how to shoot a gun. That’s it. That’s all she is; a good shot.
The thing that confuses me is that Lynn ambushes an entire town using another person as bait…(she “doesn’t like it” but that doesn’t stop her)...for the greater good? What? Talk about out of character. Since when does Lynn care about other people? She NEEDS other people to survive, to help with the water, the food, the house, she knows deep down she can’t do it on her own. She spares people she knows are not a threat and who could also be useful to her later. She doesn’t do it out of the goodness of her heart. Lynn is not a girl who is transformed by the end of the book, she doesn’t have any real character arc. We never stop hearing about how good a shot Lynn is, but when it comes down to it she won’t save Lucy’s mother from four men who make it clear they’re taking her away to rape her. If she really had empathy (if she really cared about Lucy) if she was really the strong girl she thinks she is, she would’ve grown a pair and saved Lucy’s mother. Lynn will shoot someone she dubs dangerous, but only if she’s hiding on her roof or in a tree. If Lynn thinks SHE is at risk, forget about it, you’re on your own!
She also shoots her unarmed father point blank in the face.
Let me say that again: she shoots someone who is unarmed in the face. Why? Because he wasn’t there for her, because he has material objects she wants, and because he can’t fight back. Most importantly, like most people who kill for revenge, she wanted him to know it was her who would be killing him. I’m not sure how Lynn killing her father avenges her mother. Lynn’s mom and dad never had any kind of love story, they were friends with benefits when they were younger, so I’m not sure why everyone is so shocked he didn't stick around. Lynn’s just a coward hiding behind a gun. We never see any hesitation, we never see her looking out for someone because she cares, we see Lynn looking out for herself using the people she can and killing the ones she can’t. She has all the major DSM markers of a sociopath. I wouldn’t want Lynn on my end of the world survival team that’s for damn sure
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Posted August 30, 2014
I would love it but it has not came to my house for me to read i
I would love it but it has not came to my house for me to read it says its been shiped
0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.