The Water Wars

The Water Wars

3.5 229
by Cameron Stracher
     
 

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Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...

Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few

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Overview

Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...

Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.

But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret-something the government is keeping from us...

And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him-and the truth-before it is too late for all of us.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Adult author Stracher (The Laws of Return) offers a bleak picture of the future in his first YA novel: fresh water has become a scarce commodity, with most people relying on meager rations of desalinated ocean water distributed by the government. Nations war over extant supplies, pirates thrive, black markets flourish, and desalination companies wield immense influence. Vera and her older brother, Will, have never known anything else. Then they met Kai, the enigmatic son of a water driller, who lives a life of paranoid luxury by comparison. When Kai is kidnapped, Will and Vera embark on a quest to rescue him, going through a series of adventures that take them far from home. Battling pirates, escaping ecoterrorists, and plunging to the heart of a corrupt conspiracy, they learn more about their world than they ever expected, including why Kai is of vital importance. Though characterizations can feel thin and some elements are hard to swallow, it's clear that Stracher has put much thought into the effects of cataclysmic water shortages. His fast-paced, nonstop thriller doesn't hold back in its portrayal of a parched, desperate world. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
Howard Gordon
"THE WATER WARS is a gripping environmental thriller with a too-real message. Cameron Stracher tells a story with quick pacing, compelling characters and a vision of a frightening future." - Howard Gordon, Executive Producer, '24,' and author of Gideon's War (forthcoming 2011).
Laurie David
"Let us pray that the world which Cameron Stracher has invented in THE WATER WARS is testament solely to his pure, wild, and brilliant imagination, and not his ability to see the future. I was parched just reading it." -- Laurie David, academy award winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth, and author of The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming
Justin Cronin
In the tradition of THE HUNGER GAMES, Cameron Stracher's WATER WARS is both a trenchant cautionary tale of a world drained of its most precious resource and a rousing adventure-story of the plucky young heroes who set out to save it. Perfect for young readers-but with more than enough substance for mom and dad as well.
--Justin Cronin, author of THE PASSAGE
From the Publisher
"THE WATER WARS is a gripping environmental thriller with a too-real message. Cameron Stracher tells a story with quick pacing, compelling characters and a vision of a frightening future." - Howard Gordon, Executive Producer, '24,' and author of Gideon's War (forthcoming 2011)

"Let us pray that the world which Cameron Stracher has invented in THE WATER WARS is testament solely to his pure, wild, and brilliant imagination, and not his ability to see the future. I was parched just reading it." - Laurie David, academy award winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth, and author of The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming

"In the tradition of THE HUNGER GAMES, Cameron Stracher's WATER WARS is both a trenchant cautionary tale of a world drained of its most precious resource and a rousing adventure-story of the plucky young heroes who set out to save it. Perfect for young readers-but with more than enough substance for mom and dad as well." - Justin Cronin, author of THE PASSAGE

"Adult author Stracher (The Laws of Return) offers a bleak picture of the future in his first YA novel... It's clear that Stracher has put much thought into the effects of cataclysmic water shortages. His fast-paced, nonstop thriller doesn't hold back in its portrayal of a parched, desperate world. " - Publishers Weekly

""Preble artfully combines contemporary characters with classic figures from Russian mythology to create the second installment in this intriguing series... After reading Haunted, those who missed Dreaming Anastasia will likely want to go back to the first book in the series so that they can spend more time in Preble's multi-dimensional world."— Kate Girard, RT" - RT

"Brilliant and terrifying, Stracher's water-desperate world will make readers re-think letting the water run before a shower or while brushing their teeth. As Will and Vera criss-cross this world, it becomes evident that Stracher has truly considered all of the different outcomes that a water shortage would have on a society. Stracher has created a large cast of characters with enormous skill that has each person standing out from the rest." - RT

"The thematic impact of The Water Wars was just as intense and disturbing, if not more so, than the Hunger Games novels. Readers of all ages should read this stark novel about greed and ignorance and apathy — a wonderful book to initiate discussions (in classrooms, between parents and their children, book clubs, etc.) about environmental stewardship and how the actions of one person can change the world for the better..." - Explorations: The Barnes & Noble SciFi & Fantasy Blog

"This fast-paced dystopian story paints a compelling picture of a world devoid of an adequate drinking supply, caught between warring governments and special-interest corporations. The characters are colorful and interesting, and in some respects, the scenario is frighteningly plausible... It is a recommended read that will make readers consider their own wastefulness of this precious resource." - VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"Heart Racing: If finishing The Hunger Games left a gaping hole in your life, Cameron Stracher's Water Wars aims to fill it. Set in a dystopian future where a lack of water trumps all else, this adventure tale will keep you turning pages far into the night." - Campus Circle Newspaper

"The action here will take your breath away, with chase scenes and double-crosses... Author Cameron Stracher's dark novel is a page-turner and I was up way past my bedtime reading it. It's easy to visualize the Armageddon-like landscape that Stracher describes, and it's all-too-easy to imagine the futuristic scenario that makes water so precious.

Go without food for three weeks and you'll lose a lot of weight. Go without water for three days and you'll die... Don't consider going without "The Water Wars" at all." - Detroit Lakes Tribune"Once you start reading The Water Wars, a simple glass of water becomes something special. The author has done a wonderful job of creating a bleak world, and he describes the dry, parched environment so well that I became thirsty just reading his words... The Water Wars is filled with nonstop action and it moves along at a breathless pace... The Water Wars is the kind of book I keep thinking about long after I've finished reading because it's based on a realistic scenario. And even though it deals with environmental issues and greed, it never felt preachy. It would be a great book for parents and teens to read together and discuss." - DaemonsBooks.com

""I know a river," says Kai. His words seem impossible yet tantalizing to Vera and her brother, Will, whose mother is slowly dying for lack of clean water. Shaped by severe drought, their civilization is caught in a power struggle among governments, and between governments and outsiders such as pirates and environmentalists. When Kai is kidnapped, Will and Vera begin a David-and-Goliath rescue mission that pits them and the allies they find against formidable, well-armed enemies. Set in a dismal future society,
this dystopian novel sets up a good premise... Once the plot gets in gear, the driving force is action... Readers who enjoy the adventure may also find some social and ecological food for thought along the way." - Booklist

""...a powerful message. I would recommend this novel for those who enjoy dystopian novels with a hint of sci-fi thrown into the mix." - Sacramento Book Review" - Sacramento Book Review

""The Water Wars is a thought-provoking dystopian thriller with a valuable message about the dangers of assuming that earth's resources are unlimited... With it's conservation message and ethical dilemmas, The Water Wars would provide interesting material for a middle school book report." - Story Snoops" - Story Snoops

""...leaves you really thinking about the world and just how valuable the little things we have are. I like that Stracher took something that we don't usually think about a lot, like water- and flipped it to make readers aware of just how valuable this natural resource is to us... a thrilling novel that shows us what could happen if an important resource becomes scarce." - Zoe's Book Reviews" - Zoe's Book Reviews

""The book moves in a fast-paced style and changes settings rapidly. It really takes you on an amazing odyssey." - Bookish Delights" - Bookish Delights

""Vera lives with her brother Will and her father in the Republic of Llinowa. This is in the future when water is more precious than silver and gold, and politics is all about water. Then one day Vera meets Kia, and he doesn't even seem to care about water at all. When Kia goes missing, her and Will go looking for him. During the journey they will encounter many obstacles and make many new friends. Will they discover Kia's secret and also a limitless supply of water?

"The Water Wars" is a futuristic book where the world has mostly dried out and water is the most expensive and precious thing of all. This is an outstanding novel by Cameron Stracher, unlike anything else I've read. It's quite unique and engrossing. I am eagerly awaiting Cameron Stracher's next novel." - Night Owl Reviews

""Fast-paced, suspenseful and nicely developed...I would definitely read more by Stracher and perhaps more books from the dystopian genre too." - Books and Literature for Teens" - Books and Literature for Teens

"The characters will reach readers, but it's the plot and action that will hold their attention as well as the descriptive writing that brings this bleak future world into the minds of those that pick up this book. Another good addition to those who love dystopian novels." - YA Books and More

"Cameron Stracher provides a strong cautionary tale based on the premise that in the near future the liquid wars will focus on water and not oil." - Midwest Book Review

ALAN Review - Kelly Gotkin
Vera lives in Illinowa, a republic located in America's former Midwest region. After years of wastefulness, countries battle to control what little fresh water remains on Earth. Vera lives with a constant thirst and no memories of what Earth was like when water was plentiful. She makes do with little water unquestioningly until she meets Kai, a boy who doesn't mind wasting water because he claims to know the location of a river that could end the world's drought. Vera remains wary of her new friend and his secrets, but when he and his father disappear, she's spurred to begin a life-or-death adventure to rescue them. Stracher's environmental rhetoric is heavy-handed, and he drives the plot with coincidences and helpful strangers. For environmentalist readers or those looking for a fast-paced adventure story, though, this novel provides a compelling enough plot to hold readers' attention all the way to the end. Reviewer: Kelly Gotkin
VOYA - Julie Watkins
Vera and her family inhabit a desolate, parched world, where daily life centers on finding drinkable water. Warmer temperatures and rising sea levels have wreaked havoc on the planet, while the Canadians' decision to dam its rivers thrust lower North America into war and turmoil. Its inhabitants must now deal with chronic disease and permanent water shortages. Vera and her brother, Will, rely on each other to cope with not only with their harsh living circumstances but also their father's depression and mother's debilitating illness. When they befriend Kai, another teen, they are intrigued by his casual attitude and secretiveness about his obvious access to unspoiled water. Then he is kidnapped, with few clues and a bloody trail to follow. Vera and Will embark on a treacherous journey to save their friend and soon find themselves enmeshed in a dark underworld of greed and death, where water is the most valuable commodity and worth killing for. This fast-paced dystopian story paints a compelling picture of a world devoid of an adequate drinking supply, caught between warring governments and special-interest corporations. The characters are colorful and interesting, and in some respects, the scenario is frighteningly plausible. The novel's shortcoming is that at times the plot seems to jump awkwardly from one perilous situation to another instead of having a smoother transition. On the whole, though, it is a recommended read that will make readers consider their own wastefulness of this precious resource. Reviewer: Julie Watkins
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—In a futuristic world desperate for water, Vera and her older brother, Will, struggle to help their father eke out a meager living and care for their stricken mother. When Vera befriends Kai, a wealthy teen whose father is a wildcat water driller away for months at a time, he soon becomes a fixture at their home. After he fails to meet them one day, Vera and Will stumble upon evidence that he was abducted. Their search for their friend takes them far from their republic of Illinowa in what was the Midwestern United States through the republic of Minnesota and into Canada. Along the way, they are befriended by a band of pirates and taken hostage by a group of domestic terrorists. They eventually escape and track Kai and his father to Bluewater, the shadowy organization that has a monopoly on the water desalinization process and intends to exploit Kai's rare gift of divination. Stracher has created a realistic dystopian world ravaged by drought and taken from today's headlines as scientists warn of probable water shortages in the future. The fast-paced plot, nonstop action, and hopeful conclusion will appeal to teens, who likely won't mind that some of the minor characters are two-dimensional stereotypes. Others, such as the pirate leader Ulysses, are intriguing, fleshed-out characters who complement Stracher's likable sibling protagonists.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
Kirkus Reviews

An unlikely premise isn't the weakest feature of this illogical, contrived and poorly blocked-out eco-thriller. In this devastated, Mad Max–style future, North America has devolved into warring, depopulated regions, and nearly all of the planet's fresh water has melted into the oceans, become polluted or is tightly controlled by tyrannical governments and corporations. Teenage Midwesterners Vera and Will trek through this blasted landscape to rescue their kidnapped friend, Kai. Despite having no idea who took Kai or where they went, Vera and Will stay tight on his trail thanks to fortuitously timed help from rough-cut but heart-of-gold Water Pirates, casually murderous terrorists and a remarkably well-armed freelance desalinator. After repeated miraculous escapes from captivity or death, Vera and Will are led straight to an offshore platform where Kai and his father are being held, overhear all the political and corporate kingpins discussing their plans and get away. In a bewildering denouement, they somehow liberate the world with a televised geyser that springs from an untapped aquifer that Kai has found using psychic abilities. Huh? The high body count may keep bottom feeders engaged.(Science fiction. 11-13)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402267604
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
10/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
141,629
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Water Wars


By Cameron Stracher

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Cameron Stracher
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4022-6760-4


CHAPTER 1

The year before he joined the Reclamation, when he was still seventeen, my brother Will set a new high score at the YouToo! booth at the gaming center. It was a record that stood for many years, and there were plenty of people who thought it would never be broken, although eventually it was. But by then my brother didn't care; he had found more important things to do than waste his time playing games in which winning only meant you had to play again.

We lived then in a time of drought and war. The great empires had fallen and been divided. The land was parched and starved for moisture, and the men who lived on it fought for every drop. Outside, the wind howled like something wounded. Inside, our skin flaked, and our eyes stung and burned. Our tongues were like thick snakes asleep in dark graves.

That's why I'll never forget the first time I saw Kai. He was standing in the open road drinking a glass of water like it didn't matter — water from an old plastene cup. There could have been anything in that cup: bacteria or a virus or any of the other poisons they taught about at school. Men had dug so deep for water that salt had leached into the wells, and unnamed diseases lived in what remained. But Kai didn't seem to care. He drank his water like it was the simplest thing in the world. I knew it was water because when he was finished, he did something extraordinary: he flipped the cup upside down and spilled the last remaining drops into the dust.

"Hey!" I called out to him. "You can't do that!"

He looked at me like he didn't know I was the only other person on the deserted road. He was about the same age as Will. Both had that lanky boy body I had just begun to recognize: hip bones and wrists, flat bellies and torsos. But while Will and I were dark-haired and lean, Kai was blond, with skin that glowed in the morning sun. I felt an urge to run my fingertips over his smooth forearms, feel the strange softness against my ragged nails that I never let grow long enough to paint like other girls did.

"Who says I can't?" he asked.

Wasting water was illegal. There were fines, and even prison sentences, for exceeding the quotas. But this boy looked like he didn't care about any of that.

"You just can't," I said.

"That's something a shaker would say."

"Because it's true."

"How do you know?"

"I know — that's all. Look around. Do you see any water here?"

"There's plenty of water," said the boy.

"Yeah, in the ocean."

"Can't drink salt water," he said, as if I didn't know.

I looked down the dusty road. Not a sign of life anywhere — just the hills, scarred from ancient fires, and sand blowing around the empty lot where I waited. Not even a lizard or an insect moved. Once there had been a row of stores at the edge of the lot, but now all that remained were the skeletons that scavengers hadn't sold for scrap. Torn insulation and loose wire dangled like innards from pitted aluminum struts. When the wind blew, they made a sound like mourning.

"Why don't you have your screen, anyway?" A new student should at least bring a notebook to his first day, I thought.

"I don't go to school."

"Are you a harvester?"

"My father says I don't have to go to school."

Everyone went to school, except for water harvesters' kids who chased the clouds across the sky. At least until you were eighteen — then you got jobs, or joined the army, or worked for the Water Authority Board, which was like staying in school for life.

"You're lucky," I said.

"School's not so bad."

I liked school, although I wouldn't admit it. I loved learning the details about shiny rocks, their hard, encrusted surfaces yielding clues about the minerals inside. I loved our field trips to the dams, where metal wheels as large as entire houses turned slowly in their silicon beds. Best of all, I loved deciphering the swirling purple patterns of thunderstorms and hurricanes, trying to predict where, on the brown-gray prairie, they would strike next.

"Did they take you out?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Didn't need to go anymore."

I peered down the road again. The bus was late. It was often late. Sometimes it didn't come at all, and I had to walk back to my building, where my father would unplug the old car and drive me to the school in town. Will was already there, a full hour earlier, because he had to empty the basins before the sun evaporated the small amount of water that collected as dew. Last year two other girls rode the bus with me, but one day they stopped coming and never returned. It was boring waiting alone. I welcomed the distraction.

"I've got a brother," I said. "He passed his army physical."

"Easy."

"He had to do fifty pushups."

"I can do a hundred."

The boy kneeled like he was going to start exercising right there in the dust. The place where he had spilled his cup was completely dry; I couldn't even tell it had been wet. I could see the elastic band of his underwear and the smooth skin where his back was exposed. No marks, scratches, or scabs of any kind. My own hands looked like some kind of treasure map, except the lines didn't lead to riches.

"I'm Vera," I said to his back.

"Kai," he said, standing up.

"Where did you get the water?"

"I've got lots of water."

"Are you rich?"

"I guess so."

"Should you be out alone?" "Ha!" he snorted. "I'd like to see them try something."

It wasn't clear whom he was talking about, but I didn't think Kai — or any boy — could stand up well to the bandits and soldiers who menaced our town, no matter how many pushups he could do.

"Are you waiting for someone?" I asked.

"Going to a scavenge site. Want to come?"

"I've got school."

"After school?"

I said I would try, but I knew my father wouldn't let me. He didn't want me going anywhere after school — not with this boy, not with any boy. It was dangerous to hang around strangers. Just last year there had been a virus, and three kids in our class had died. No one went to school for two weeks afterward, and Will and I played cards in his bedroom until we got so bored that we wanted to scream.

"We live in the Wellington Pavilion," Kai said, naming a fancy housing complex. "Meet me there this afternoon. I'll tell the guards."

"I have water team."

"After water team, then."

"I'll ask my dad." Down the road I could see the telltale signs of rising dust. "There's my bus."

Kai looked to where I pointed, and his lips drew a tight line of disappointment. I realized then that he wasn't out in the road spilling water because he had enough to drink. Like the girls who cut themselves or snuck their parents' pharmies, he wanted someone to pay attention. I promised myself I would try to visit this boy, even though my father wouldn't like it.

"Good-bye," I said. "I'll look for you later."

"Later," he said.

I boarded the bus and turned to wave, but as I did, I saw a car stop for the boy — a big, black limousine, gasoline-powered, with an engine that threw off heat in shimmering waves of silver. The door opened, and a burly guard with a machine pistol stepped into the road — mirrored glasses hid his eyes, and a thick cartridge belt cinched his waist. He signaled to Kai, and the boy climbed inside without looking back.

CHAPTER 2

That night Will and I stayed up late. Will had dragged his mattress across the hallway to my room, where it rested on a couple of wooden crates our father had salvaged from a food drop. The two beds made a kind of giant spongy stair. I was on the top step, and Will was one below. We had two covers, both of which I tugged more closely around me. Will complained, but he gave up as soon as I told him about Kai.

"He must be rich," Will concluded.

"He is," I said. "And Will ..." I waited until I had his complete attention. "After the bus came, they picked him up in a limo."

"Who picked him up?"

"I don't know. There was a guard with a gun."

Will squinted with his left eye. I always thought it was unfair that I got our mother's freckles, while Will had our father's witch-hazel eyes: pinwheels of green, gray, and gold. When he squinted, it was like peering into the glass end of a kaleidoscope.

"His father must be a WAB minister, maybe."

"There are no WABs here," I reminded him.

"He could live in Basin."

"Then why would he be out walking on our road?" I asked.

If the boy's father were on the Water Authority Board, he wouldn't live in the Wellington Pavilion, as nice as it was, and he wouldn't be outside walking. There were places a lot nicer, and a lot more expensive, with better security. Most of the WAB ministers lived in Basin, the capitol, about sixty kilometers away. The Water Authority controlled the flow and distribution of water and was the closest thing we had to an actual government. Our republic — Illinowa — was all that remained of the Midwestern pieces of the old United States, and the only thing left to govern was water. The decisions made by WABs in Basin could mean life or death for the rest of us. I'd never been to the city, but photographs showed leafy trees growing from beneath semi-porous grates and real grass in the park. Everything seemed to be breathing, and the air was gauzy with moisture.

"He must live around here," I decided. "He says he does. We should invite him to dinner."

"We don't have any food."

"That's not true."

"Synth-food's not food," said Will. "And Dad is a terrible cook."

"He doesn't have time to make a real meal." I hated when Will criticized our father's cooking. "Anyway, I don't mind synth-steaks."

It was months since we'd eaten anything except the synthetic food the Water Authority Board provided in weekly food drops. They claimed it tasted like the real thing, but of course it didn't. Everything had a sort of bland sameness. Steak tasted like chicken; orange juice tasted like tomato juice. The only real differences were the colors and textures. Still, people could get used to anything, and we did.

If Kai was rich, he didn't act like it. Rich people lived in secure compounds with guards and robo-dogs and rarely left their buildings. When they did, they wore kev-jackets on the streets and carried laser-tasers or guns. In Basin they were permitted to shoot first if a stranger approached without identification. Even in Arch, where we lived, the occasional businessman was ferried about in an armored vehicle. You could never be too safe, or too protected. That's what our teachers said. Men would kill for a glass of water, and did.

Will and I talked until the power grid shut down and the lights flickered, then went dark. He had a small glow light, but it wasn't fully charged or bright enough for both of us to read by. The darkness settled. I felt myself growing weightless, thoughts flitting half-formed through my mind, pieces of one thing replaced by endings of another. I knew sleep was coming. In my dreams Kai offered me plastene cups filled with water, but I couldn't drink them fast enough. The water tasted like graphite and made my mouth dry. I tried to tell him to stop, but he kept offering them and spilling what I couldn't drink on the ground.

When I awoke, my blanket was bunched around my neck, and my hair was damp with sweat. Will was already downstairs, dry-showered and eating a bowl of Oatios in front of the wireless. I skipped the shower and grabbed a Toasty Bar as our father ushered us to the door.

"No time for texting," he said.

I reached for a controller on the kitchen table.

"Signal's out anyway," said Will.

The wireless played a news feed about a pirate attack, and Will also had a couple of game channels open, but the wi-text screen was down. My father had explained that bandwidth and signal strength varied depending on the grid, but it didn't seem a coincidence that propaganda and entertainment were always easiest to find while communication was more difficult. You could play YouToo! almost anywhere in the world, but sending a simple message across republics was unpredictable and sometimes impossible.

I hurried to follow Will and barely had time to finish my breakfast because he walked so fast.

We didn't see Kai at the bus stop. We waited until the last possible minute, staring down the road in the hope that he would materialize out of the dust. Then the driver barked for us to get on board, and we scampered up the steps. The ride to school was agonizingly slow and bumpy. Though it was fall, it felt like summer, and the bus was hot and airless even with the windows cranked open. My lips were chapped, and I was thirsty already, but of course there was nothing to drink and there wouldn't be anything until lunchtime. I licked my lips and plunged into the pages of my screen, where the seas were always blue and the skies heavy with thunder.

Our school was a one-story cinder-block building that looked as if it had once been larger. At each end the hallways simply stopped and were bricked off without windows or doors. The classrooms were overcrowded, and there wasn't enough space in the gym or lunchroom for everyone to play or eat at the same time. Fortunately on most days one-quarter of the kids were sick or absent, which meant the school was nearly the right size for the rest of us. At least there were enough chairs in my class for everyone to find a seat.

The school's venti-unit blew at full power. I could feel the air coursing over my head like a current as I walked down the hallway. It was crackly and dry, alive with static electricity. The unit was supposed to filter dirt and chemicals, but it made the air taste like something metallic. The teachers kept the windows open anyway, because the school was so hot.

I found my class and sat at my usual seat near the window. The other kids chatted noisily and tossed things at each other while I opened my screen and adjusted my pen-writer. A boy named Ryark tried to get my attention by tapping my shoulder with a calculating stick. He had hair that stuck up like a toilet brush. I ignored him. When the teacher arrived, Ryark sat back quickly in his seat, and the class quieted down. No one dared aggravate the teachers, who freely dispensed electric zaps with a battery- powered teacher's aid.

We were doing a unit on weather. Mrs. Delfina used her laser pencil to show how the jet stream carried storm systems from west to east. Variations in Earth's temperature made the jet stream dip and twist, curving north when it should be headed east. This made it snow where it should be warm and brought rain to the colder regions. Predicting weather, she said, was more art than science, because you had to take into account the changing temperature of the land and water and the competing forces of high and low pressure systems that jockeyed for position over the continent. Even the slightest variation could wreak enormous havoc.

"A butterfly beating its wings over Basin today," Mrs. D. said, "can change tomorrow's weather two thousand kilometers away."

I pictured a butterfly floating in the jet stream — beating its wings furiously to stay aloft — and moving just enough air so storm clouds would travel north instead of south. It was difficult to imagine, although I knew men changed the weather with giant airplanes that seeded the clouds for rain and enormous turbines that sucked the moisture from the sky. Many days we awoke with storm clouds on the horizon, only to see the sky transformed into a brilliant, piercing blue.

"What's the most important thing we can do to protect our weather?" Mrs. D. asked.

"Guard the earth and sky," we answered in unison.

Mrs. Delfina smiled. Her teeth were large and white and looked nearly perfect. In fact, I knew they were not real. I had seen her once, in the bathroom, with her teeth on the side of the sink, her open mouth hollow and empty. Teeth were the first thing that went bad, and most shakers had to make do with fake ones. Mrs. D. was lucky she could afford them. There were plenty who could not.

When we finished morning lessons, there was lunch, which we ate in the cafeteria. The school had stopped providing hot lunch several years ago. Now most kids brought lunch from home. I traded my Cheesios to another girl for an extra soy milk. Nearby a group of boys tossed packs of dried veggies at each other. I looked around for Will, but I didn't see him. I drank the first milk, and then the second, and still I was thirsty. But there would be no more until dinner, so I forced my lips shut and tried to think about something else.

During recess some of the younger kids went outside, even though the school forbade it. There weren't enough teachers to prevent them, and they snuck out through the cafeteria doors. I sat near a window with my screen and watched them kick a small ball around in the dust. When they came back inside, they were sweaty and dirty and laughing. One boy started coughing, and the others made fun of him, holding their hands over their mouths and whooping. The first boy looked as if he might start crying, and I nearly stood up to tell the others to stop. But then the bell rang; school resumed, and the rest of the day passed quickly. More lessons in weather, then water management and conservation, then math.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher. Copyright © 2011 Cameron Stracher. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Cameron Stracher is a writer and media lawyer. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He lives in Westport, CT, with his wife, two children, and two dogs, not necessarily in that order. He can be reached at thewaterwars@gmail.com

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The Water Wars 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 229 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Water Wars devastated the United States which split into six nations in conflict with each other and Canada. The eco disaster is so great that Niagara Falls on both sides of the former boundary is bone dry. Children have become commodities to sell on the market as liquid finding slaves. In Illinowa, the government Water Board Authority, the most powerful agency, distributes desalinated water to citizens. The chemical cleansed liquid leads to disease as the mother of young Vera and Will seems to be dying from the toxin. The kids meet Kai who seems to have an endless supply of fresh water. He explains he gets his water from his dad who knows the location of an underground river. When someone kidnaps Kai and his father, Vera and Will search for their new friend. Cameron Stracher provides a strong cautionary tale based on the premise that in the near future the liquid wars will focus on water and not oil. The author's harsh environment in which the polar caps are gone is so vivid, readers will feel constantly thirsty. Violence is prolific as fights on grand and small scales are the norm; think in terms of the range wars of the late nineteenth century, but on a global scale. Although none of the three teens are fully developed as the Stracher world overwhelms the cast, young adult readers will appreciate this engaging thriller. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so dissapointed in this book. The writing is mediocre at best. There is almost no character development. I HATE not finishing a book I start so it took every ounce of strengh to finish this book. Then the ending just does nothing..I guess the author is hoping to make this a trilogy or something. I read this right after reading The Hunger Games so perhaps I was expecting to much from this story. I just can't get over how elementary the writing is. The idea of the story had potential..the author just couldn't deliver.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont get this book for nook it cost more than the actual book
PamKoons More than 1 year ago
i had gotten this book at what i thought was a steal, $0.99--but in reality the book company stole from me. the only thing thats good about this book, is the cover. otherwise the book is rather dull. the entire time it felt like the author was rushing, and it was clear he was writing as fast as he could to make the deadline. i think the book could have really been good, but it was just too sloppy and confusing for my taste.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do think that some of the topics could have been elaborated further. Also, the ending was supper rushed. But, this was a heart breaking story with alot of action and cynical humor
Liraelin More than 1 year ago
A good book with a well rounded story. Follows Vera and Will, a brother and sister, through a discovery that everything is not what it seems and that sometimes even the powers that be can't be trusted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're in to The Hunger Games and a dystopian society without, I recommend reading this book. Sure the writing isn't necessarily intellectually oriented or the most complex out there but Stracher's universe is the respectable lovechild of Frank Herbert's Dune and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games. Although one con I can say hindered the reading for me more than the lesser-developed writing was the fact that no major characters throughout the entire novel died, both adversary or hero. I hate to sound pessimistic here but in my opinion death is an important ingredient in character development at the right (and not always fortunate) time and this story severely lacks its presence. However, amidst minor frustrations, I cannot help to like the book as a whole and am not sorry for reading it.
ReadingFixesMe More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I thought that the charecters where strong and that this subject is one that very few venture near. Now i feel compeeled to conserve water. This book really made me think about bigger things thank you cameron Stacher
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please harriet no more spoilers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book it had action romance death murder pirates govenment people gifts rescues. It was truly a perfect book:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it was really fast pace but i finished in like a day so its fast which is nice and did i mention i loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Opposed to what other comments have said, i enjoyed reading this book. The author had brilliant idea and took it into a full story, something most people cant do. I fell in love with the characters and felt every emotion they felt as the story progressed. An excellent book and i highly recommend it. You will want to expieriance what they went through, no matter how bad.
SEH221 More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. I enjoyed the very real plot of the world running out of fresh water to share. The characters are well devoloped and relatable. Some of the elements are a little copycat like the video hub called YouToo!
Susan Sayers More than 1 year ago
This book makes you think about our wasteful ways. The characters had interesting interactions, but I was hoping for some sort of epilogue. It makes a very strong point about over-population and waste. Overall, I loved it!
Corian_D More than 1 year ago
This story was a creative view at what may be one day. Kinda reminds me of Tank Girl in a way, only sweeter at points and more thrilling at others. Hoping for a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the premise for the book but I feel that the characters were shallow.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Pls friend me ppl my names logan steele age 13 <:={
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I used to own this in paperback. The concept is beautiful, but concept alone does not a story make. Poor execution and lack of characters and circumstances that made me care about what I was reading made me regret my purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of: - Action - Adventure Not a lot of: Water
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think you mean et toi. Et, oui, j'aime legend et champion! Je m'appelle Madileine. Comment et tu?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Salut! Tu aime water wars? Non? Tu n'aime pas water wars? Je n'aime pas water wars. Je prefere legend, prodigy, et champion. Et trois?