In the first book in a terrifying post-apocalyptic duology, it's in the rain...and just one drop will kill you
.27 is a number Ruby hates. It's a number that marks the percentage of the population that has survived. It's a number that means she's one of the "lucky" few still standing. And it's a number that says her father is probably dead.
Against all odds, Ruby has survived the catastrophic onset of the killer rain. Two weeks after the radio started broadcasting the warning, "It's in the rain. It's fatal and there's no cure," the drinkable water is running out. Ruby's left with two options: persevere on her own, or embark on a treacherous journey across the country to find her father-if he's even still alive.
Don't miss the breathless conclusion to the H2O duology, THE STORM.
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By Virginia Bergin
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Virginia Bergin
All rights reserved.
There's really no point going on about how things used to be. For one, I can't stand to think about it — even though I do, a lot, and it makes me want to throw up with sadness. For two, it kind of doesn't matter, does it? It's over. And for three, I'm not writing this because of how things used to be — I'm writing this because of what happened. So I'll start right there. This is what happened:
I was sitting in a hot tub in my underwear kissing Caspar McCloud.
Ha! That also sounds like a great beginning, maybe from some kind of kiss-fest romance, or maybe Caspar would turn out to be a sexy vampire. But the truth is — and this is the one thing I will do, for sure. I will try to tell the truth, even if it hurts me to say it, even if it shocks you to hear it (and I doubt it will, because if you're reading this you've probably had about a gazillion shocks already) — the truth is, it wouldn't be right to pretend that kissing in a hot tub was the kind of thing I usually did on a Saturday night, because it wasn't.
It soooooooooooooooooooooo wasn't. Don't get me wrong: I'd kissed boys before (two); I'd been to parties before (like, since I was five years old or something). I'd even sat in that hot tub in my underwear before (with Lee — that's Lee as in Leonie, my best friend). But that night, that party ... it was the best, the most amazing — scarily amazing — time I had ever had in my life up until that point. (Not difficult.)
That night — that one, glorious, hot Saturday night — I was becoming a new me, one who was going to have a boyfriend named Caspar and do stuff like kiss in hot tubs at wild parties all the time. Yes, from the nagging jaws of the THEY, I was about to snatch complete, amazing greatness and total brilliance. And a boyfriend.
What can I say? It happened. It really happened! Zak, who lived in this massively cool, rambling old farmhouse, and whose parents were so laid-back you could basically do whatever you liked, pulled the speakers outside the barn where we — that's me and all my lovely friends (exception to be named shortly) — had been hanging out drinking LETHAL cider punch, and a bunch of us stripped down — to our underwear — and climbed into their hot tub.
We sort of danced where we sat, doing so-slick-yeah-check-it mini arm moves. It was totally hilarious, but it was also totally cramped ... until people started getting out again, moaning that the hot tub was too hot.
It was like some dreadful slow-motion countdown. With every person that got out, the water in that tub got stiller and stiller. I kept wishing it was one of those Jacuzzi tubs with bubbles, but it wasn't; unless you kept trailing your hands around on the surface, you could see everything. So I sat there, casually fanning my hands around ... because across that pool of steaming water sat Caspar Swoon McCloud.
And in between us sat Saskia, who wasn't fanning her hands about at all.
I do want to say that, even before that night, I wasn't really sure how much I actually liked Saskia. Not that I really knew her; she'd just started hanging out with us lately — even more lately than Caspar, who'd transferred to our school from the artsy hippie school, and was cool and wild and was in a band, and I'd once told Simon and my mom I was babysitting with Lee so I could go see Caspar's band play at a bar. And it was there, while Caspar was onstage at The George, doing his guitar thing, that he'd looked up and looked at me, and I'd looked at him and —
KA-CASPAR-BOOM! (PART ONE)
I realized I was in love with Caspar McCloud.
And this is too much information, isn't it? This is exactly what I said I wouldn't do, which is go on about how things were. I can't stand it. I'll shut up.
Back in the hot tub, Lee came to my rescue — or tried to. She came up and asked Saskia where the gin had gone (I told you that punch was lethal), and Saskia said she didn't know, and Lee said she thought she'd seen her with it, and Saskia said she hadn't had it, and Lee said maybe she could just come and help her look for it, and Saskia, who SO knew all along what Lee was trying to do, sighed this enormous bored sigh and stood up and climbed out of the tub with her chest practically in Caspar's face and then turned to me and said:
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Then there really was nothing but a steaming hot tub of water between me and Caspar McCloud.
I was so shy. I nearly died of shyness. Also, I was slightly worried that I was going to cook to death or perish from an exploding bladder because I really, really needed to pee. I tried not to think about that, and it wasn't difficult because I was in a state of pre-kiss terror. For sure, any second now, there was going to be a kiss. There HAD to be a kiss.
"Hey, Rubybaby," said Caspar.
That's what he called me: Rubybaby. From the lips of anyone other than a divine being, it would have sounded cringe making and vomit worthy. From the lips of Caspar McCloud, it was utterly thrilling, as if an electric-lipped angel was kissing your soul. You know: hot and crackly.
"Hey, Caspar," I said, crackling.
"Why don't you swim on over here and keep me company?" he said.
I fixed him with this sultry model's stare (deadpan but pouty) that I'd been practicing at home. "Well, why don't you swim on over here?" I said.
It was the pre-kiss terror that made me say that. Basically I would have swum the Atlantic to get to him. Genius, Ruby. All I'd done was prolong the agony.
Slowly and sexily, we both scooted toward each other. Actually, I'm not sure if you can scoot slowly and sexily, but that's what it felt like. Also, it felt like it took an eternity, when really it was probably about ten seconds or something.
I looked into his eyes. Then I had to look away because it was just too, too intense. I could see all my friends, dancing and messing around like idiots, and behind them, this gorgeous red sunset blazing in the sky.
If I'd looked the other way, I would have seen something else. I would have seen clouds gobbling up the night. Maybe I would even have seen the clouds reflected in Caspar's eyes, but when I got a grip enough to stare into them again, I wasn't there to admire the view.
BOMF! I practically head-butted him as my lips mashed into his. His lips sort of opened a little, and I kind of pushed my tongue into his mouth. I thought that was what you were supposed to do, to show how passionate you felt or something. Like I said, I'd kissed boys before, and that's what we had done. It had been fairly disgusting. Kissing Caspar like that wasn't disgusting; it was scary, and it felt all wrong. Until ... I dunno. It just changed. One minute it was tongue- on-tongue combat, the next minute ...
If this was my blockbuster movie, we would pause here. It would be worth a whole scene all by itself, that kiss. We would linger on it for as long as possible. That kiss. Those kisses. Where does one kiss end and another begin? We just kind of melted into one another. I know that's the kind of stupid thing they say in cheesy romances, but we did. That's what happened! One minute I was my own clumsy me-being, freaking out, and I could feel this divine Caspar-being (was he freaking out too?), this Caspar-being's tongue, and the next minute ... I dunno ... it was total —
KA-CASPAR-BOOM! (PART TWO)
We didn't hear the yelling.
Fingers dug into my arm. My lips disconnected from Caspar's. I turned and —
"GET OUT!" Zak's dad shouted into my face, hauling me from the tub.
And that is when it all began.CHAPTER 2
Like most people in the country, Zak's parents had gone to a barbecue that night. That's the thing about Britain, isn't it? First glimmer of sunshine, first sign of heat and everyone goes nuts, puts on their shorts, and has a barbecue. Doesn't matter if it looks like rain; we go out and we stay out until the first drop falls. No — it's worse than that: it actually has to start pouring before people give up and go inside. You add to that a holiday weekend — a whole extra day for sunburned people to lie around wishing they hadn't drunk ten zillion cans of beer and/or that they had cooked the hot dogs properly on the grill — and you get ... well, you get what happened, don't you?
Zak's parents weren't supposed to be coming home, so it was obvious right away that something was wrong because they were back, but it was even more obvious that something was wrong because they were freaking out. Normally, they wouldn't have cared at all about whatever it was we were doing. That was what was so cool about Zak's. OK, he had the hot tub and the barn and woods and fields and everything to hang out in, but the really cool thing was that his parents were completely chill. They smoked joints in front of us — hey, they even gave Zak weed! That's how chill they were.
Tonight, they were not relaxed. They basically went all Simon on us. They herded us all into the kitchen. The only thing that was un-Simon was that Zak's dad, Barnaby, kept swearing.
OK, so this is going to be the only other rule about this story: I will try to be honest; I will try to tell everything as it was, but I will not swear. My mom hated me swearing — the word God included, despite the fact that (1) she said it herself all the time (but denied it) and (2) as far as I can tell, everyone else on the planet says it all the time too. "There's no need for swearing," she'd tell me. Even with the whole world in the grip of a death-fest mega-crisis, she'd say, "Ruby, there is absolutely no need to swear."
Actually, there is a huge need for it in this story, and a lot of swearing did happen, but out of respect for my mom, I will not write those words. If, like me, you curse all the time anyway, you can go ahead and add your own swear words, but I hope you'll understand why I can't.
I'll write something beautiful instead. I'll write "[??]." For my mom.
"Oh [??]! Oh [??]! Oh [??]!" Barnaby kept going.
(The thing is, Zak's parents were always into some pagan-y religious thing or another, so it's possible that Barnaby really was calling on some specific god and wasn't just generally ranting.)
He locked the kitchen door.
"You're frightening them," said Zak's mom, Sarah, but Barnaby wasn't listening. He closed every window in the kitchen, and when he'd finished doing that, he started closing all the other windows.
You could hear him, banging around all over the house.
We weren't frightened at all. It was a little weird, but the hardest thing was not to get the giggles — although in my case I had nothing to laugh about, now there wasn't even any water to cover me. I did my best with dish towels. All our stuff, everyone's stuff, was in the barn.
"Mom, what's going on?" said Zak.
"We're not really sure," said Sarah. "Someone Barnaby knows called him and — "
Thump, thump, thump — bang! — thump, thump, thump, went Barnaby upstairs.
"Mom?" said Zak.
Bang! Thump, thump, thump. Barnaby came back down the stairs.
"You'd better ask your dad," said Sarah.
See now, that was kind of weird, wasn't it? Zak didn't normally call his mom "Mom"; Sarah didn't normally call Barnaby "your dad." If I didn't know Zak was practically immune to a whole lot of stuff that really bothered other people — like being embarrassed by your parents — I would have thought he was freaking out too. But his parents did crazy stuff all the time, and everyone knew they did, and usually no one laughed about it much because everyone understood what Zak had to deal with ... and also because Sarah and Barnaby were so kind to us.
This latest crazy thing, whatever it was, it was just bad timing, party-wise.
"Turn the radio on," Barnaby told Zak.
"Dad?" said Zak, but he turned it on anyway.
They didn't have a TV. Zak's parents didn't even have a digital radio; they had the old-fashioned crackly kind. Guess what was on?
Gardeners' Question Time.
They were discussing the best methods of tackling blight on roses.
Someone lost it and giggled. The giggling, it spread.
"This isn't right," said Barnaby quietly. "It should be the news."
I laughed too; it was impossible not to crack up with Mrs. Fotheringay-Flytrap describing the spots on her Rambling Rector rose ... but you want to know something weird? While I certainly wouldn't in a million years have thought, Oh no! This must mean the world as we know it is about to end, I kind of knew it wasn't right too. I didn't know what was supposed to be on, but I knew Gardeners' Question Time shouldn't have been. My mom LOVED that program and listened to it every Sunday — every Sunday. Not on a Saturday night. Never on a Saturday night. Not exactly scary, though, was it?
"Go and put your clothes on!" Sarah snapped at us.
I shivered. Caspar hugged me close. Leonie grabbed my hand.
Sarah never snapped at us.
"They're in the barn," said Saskia — in a really horrible way, like Sarah was stupid.
"Take ours, then," said Sarah. "Take whatever you want. Just get dressed."
Someone muttered something and headed for the kitchen door.
"Don't go outside," said Barnaby. Loudly, angrily. "You do NOT go outside."
We shuffled out of the room, the whole herd of us. On the stairs, someone cracked up, and we all had to make a mad dash for Zak's parents' bedroom so we could laugh our heads off in private, without hurting their feelings.
"What the [??] is up with your parents, man?" said Caspar.
"Got me, dude," said Zak. But he didn't sound OK; he still didn't sound OK. "C'mon," he said to Ronnie — my techie-est friend — and they went off to Zak's room.
The rest of us, we played dress-up with Zak's parents' clothes. It was so funny we forgot all the weirdness. Caspar pulled on a kaftan.
"Ohhm!" he said, doing this prayer thing with his hands.
I laughed so hard I almost —
"I need to pee," I remembered.
Lee followed me to the bathroom. I went first. I had to — I was bursting. Then Lee went while I surveyed myself in the mirror: [??]. So much for the model look. The big, baggy hippie dress was the least of it. My lips, which felt puffy-bruised and tingling from the kissing, looked kind of normal, but I had mascara zombie eyes, and where I'd had bright red lipstick on earlier, it looked like it had sort of smeared itself all over my chin; even my nose had gone Rudolf. No hope Sarah would have makeup remover, so I wet a piece of toilet paper, dabbed it in the soap, and wiped at my chin.
It wasn't really lipstick at all; it was my first ever full-blown kissing rash, and it stung. It really stung.
Nothing I could do about it, so I quickly scrubbed at the mascara disaster. Their soap — which wasn't like the soap we had at home but some organic, lentil-based, gray-green thing — was useless. It didn't even foam up, so that was it, then: I was half black-eyed zombie, half human cherry. Mortifying. Seriously mortifying.
"C'mon, get out!" shouted Caspar through the bathroom door. "Molly wants to puke!"
Great. I had to face him knowing what the face I was facing him with looked like. We opened the door, and Molly burst in, about to be sick. Under normal friendship circumstances, it would have been our duty to stay with her — but, honestly, just listening to her made my own stomach start to heave. It was bad enough looking like a mutant in front of Caspar — I definitely did not want him to witness me spewing my guts out, so I grabbed Lee's hand, and we went back downstairs.
We passed Zak's room on the way, where he and Ronnie were bickering for control of the computer. ("Why's it so slow?! Just click there," Zak was saying, trying to grab hold of the mouse. "Just click on it!")
In the kitchen, the radio people had moved on to discussing plants for dry, shady borders — which is a serious problem, apparently, and was not nearly as funny as the earlier part of the broadcast. Barnaby looked as if he was in a trance, staring out the kitchen window at ... OK, so now the party had been totally spoiled; it was raining. None of us had noticed. Why would we? We'd been too busy laughing our heads off.
"I think you all need to sober up," said Sarah, handing out glass after glass of water. "Leonie, can you please put the kettle on?"
"YesSarahYes," Lee slurred, glugging her water.
Barnaby grabbed his cell phone and started jabbing at it, trying different numbers.
Excerpted from H2O by Virginia Bergin. Copyright © 2014 Virginia Bergin. 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.
H2O was a crazy, intense, and scary story. Not scary as in I-was-so-scared-I-needed-the-lights-on-and-couldn't-sleep, but in a if-this-was-reality-the-world-would-be-destroyed-and-freaking-out kind of way. It made me think about if my family and I would be prepared for anything like the scenario the story painted. It definitely made me very thirsty and want to have a year supply of water. It was also a somewhat gruesome tale with all the bleeding, dying people and the violence. Just. Intense. So much goes on and its all this complete whirlwind with people completely losing it and not thinking or acting rationally, including the main character, for much of the story. Of course there are some sane ones too, but it's amazing how even one out of control individual can endanger everyone else. I don't tend to like stories that are this destructive, and depressing and when I do, I need enough happy moments, un-craziness, and humor to balance the story for me and make it worth all the yucky stuff. There were some of those moments here and some of them were humorous and sweet. Princess (a young girl, somewhere between six and nine years old who had become mute due to the trauma she'd seen) was one character that shed some light on this story. Darius was another. He's a total geek, but I actually really liked him. He was honest, smart, and caring. I also really liked Ruby's step-father who she finally came to see more clearly. Then you had these other outrageous characters. I felt like I was in a punk video some of the time. Then there was the main character, Ruby. Ruby, Ruby, Ruby. What to do with you??? She is extremely angsty. I mean the most full-of-angst character I have ever read. At the beginning she felt like a really true, realistic, self-centered teen. There was a ton of inter-dialogue and snarkiness as Ruby is the narrator. She was kind of a snob and cared about electronics, being popular, and how she looked. Just slightly materialistic (sarcasm intended). I could live with her through half of the story this way, and through her complete freak-outs (and there were a lot). As the story progressed she did begin to have her perspective change, but I needed a lot more development. I wanted her to go gather supplies that were actually realistic and needed. I wanted her to find clothes that would work, be necessary and comfortable. I wanted her to think. Sparkly flip-flops? Sequined and flashy clothes? Heels? Wearing makeup and trying a self-tan? Clothes and electronics instead of water and food? Really? When the world is in chaos and you might not survive without the necessities? And who is going to see you anyway? When you can't drink or touch the rain or any water that wasn't already bottled? That's where I had some issues with the story. After she had seen how the world was and what she needed to do to make it, I wanted her to adjust more to that. She was scared and she should have been. That was realistic, but I wanted more from her character. Having said all that... I did feel that a lot of the story was very realistic, especially with how a lot of the people left after the first destructive rain reacted. I also thought the situation was plausible. It drizzles and rains a lot in England. The population would be almost completely destroyed very quickly in this type of situation and with water not even safe from the water system and pipes, there would be complete mayhem. H2O ended up not really being my type of story. I would have enjoyed it more if I could have liked the main character. The writing was smooth, as was the insane pace and plot. I am actually curious what will happen in the next book in this series, The Storm, coming January 2015. I'm curious because there was potential here and a chance for a better resolution. Content: There was some gruesome parts and some violence. There was also a symbol used in place of any swear words (which I appreciated as I don't like swearing) and some brief innuendo. Otherwise this was clean. Source: From the publisher through NetGalley, which did not affect my review in any way.
This book is great. I love and hate it though. Ruby at the very very beginning is excatly what the teenage girl stereotype is made of. Super stuck up. Really ignorant and way to cligy. But she is the most ignorant character I've ever read aside from the program (which is a great story. The writings sketchy and the characters are driven by the power of love. But the actual story id reccomend.) But really a sequined dress in an apocolypse. Seriously. That's one star for not writing in some common sense. But otherwise its good. The dynamic between her and Simon is great and I love how real it is. I just can't stand her ignorance. Dogs ok, means sshe has a good heart. Fine whatever. But the thought process in which you feel the need to apply makeup everyday is horrible it was just frusterating. But she straightens out in the end thank goodness. But reading her making these awful decisions and being so mean made the book slightly less enjoyable than it could have been and honestly it was the personal drive I have to finish every series I start. That forced me to read this book. Otherwise I am most certain I would have stopped. But there are plenty of good parts in the book. Like the whole story and how carefully it unfolds. It was like watching someones life playout from the sky which is how books should be.
I loved thid book, it was sad and loving and it showed sides of people no one usely sees. I almost cried at certain parts and i really hope there will be a second book. I hope everything works out for ruby.
Its an amazimg book. Great for all ages. If your into thrullers you should read this. It starts off with 2 pages of slow stuff. An zmazing boo,
I love this book sooooooo much... its such a good book and i highly reccomend it!!!
Why are people so judgemental?The author did a good job,don.Anyone willing to read this book,don't hesitate.Also,I did not mean to put don on that last sentence.
This book was very interesting because personally I love to read apocalypse/ dystopian novels. In the first half of the book Ruby was a very frustrating character to read about. Eventually she got less frustrating. What frustrated me the most was how she kept applying makeup and always checking if they had good clothes or makeup. All she cared about was her physical appearance even amidst a global crisis in which only .27 of the population survived. I also did not like how she was mean to Darius Spratt who was just being logical when she snapped at him for saying the chances of finding her father alive were where very slim. And that he was most likely dead. She also thought that she could still find her "Boyfriend" whom she kissed once and was driven to the hospital after going out in the rain. After that I thought that she became more tolerable. But overall a great read and i would recommend it to anyone that was interested.
Hey im in sixth grade and i have freshman at college reading level and you think i should not read it ;)
Unrealistic and the main character is too whiny
It is a little bit sexaul but it really intesen i can not belive that rain can kill you and i do not think it is for sixth graders and under
Great dystopian novel.
H2O is a great novel that shows true determination. When Ruby finds out the rain causes deadly reactions when someone comes in contact with it, it is the start of her life being torn apart. She loses many people in her life & is left alone. So, she decides to take a journey from her home in Dartbridge, UK, to find her father, who lives in London. She meets up with the “nerd” from her school & a small child had found. They continued their journey to London & meet many other people. Ruby then completes her journey to London & makes a shocking discovery. I would recommend this book because it isn’t like other apocalypse books where the main character falls in love & saves the world. I really enjoyed it because of the more realistic touch to Ruby’s reactions. This book is a reasonable length & has good detail. I enjoyed it & cannot wait to read the sequel!
The book had its mix on humour, horror, and tragic situations. It was such an interesting idea for a post-apocalyptic story. The book really made me think about how much water affects our everyday lives. I ended up reading the book on a very rainy day and I did catch myself being very cautious when I opened the door and windows. It definitely made me very thirsty, wanting water. The concept itself sounded intriguing and unique . What I really enjoyed about H20 was how realistically portrayed the characters were. It was action packed and extremely emotional. It definitely made me sob. Ruby on the other hand was obnoxious and lovable. Her character is a little too loud, brash and relatable, but that makes her believable. About half way though it slows down and the main character got a little annoying. But it had some really gory parts. It was also a somewhat gruesome tale with the bleeding, the dying and the violence. The writing though had a lot of grammar issues that bugged me. Overall the book was pretty well written. The book itself is intended for teens and young adults. But If you're into post-apocalyptic and BIG into the current wave of dystopian future, it's a must. So I recommend it.
Good story. Had great character development. But overall kind of depressing. No happy lining. Plus the pets overall fate made me want to cry.
He grinned. "Heh. Our messed up family." (He nodded, said okay, hugged me, kissed me, and told me he would handle everything. So. I guess I'll be seeing some specialist soon then.)
Irritating main character, slow moving plot, and uninteresting story and side characters. Not a fan!
Realisticly written. H20 grabs your attention and doesn't let go untill the last page.
Started off a little slow but about 50 pages in I was obsessed. Ruby's story was phenomenal, theres a small love/hate story between her step-father and another one with this kid Darius. At times i felt myself wondering what the hell i would do in this scenario but it was realistic and accurately written since Ruby is supposed to be 15. Possibly i'm biased by being a 15 year old myself, but if you enjoy the end of the world T.V shows or books this one is defiantly worth your time. I finished it in 4 days. 10/5 if you ask me.
“H2O” is an apocalyptic thriller centering around the premise of deadly rain, and I found it quite enjoyable. For maximum scare factor, be sure to read it during a rainstorm, as I accidentally did. Ruby, the main character, is pretty much a mean girl everyone knew in high school. Of course, she doesn’t actually realize that she is mean. I’ve read some complaints about her character and, while I agree that she is not always pleasant, she is realistic. She just turned fifteen and from her own story she was never overly mature for her age. The rain didn’t suddenly make her smarter, more likable, or super brave. I appreciate the author keeping it real in that way. She does have some admirable qualities, and she also realizes some mistakes she has made along the way. It’s definitely a love/hate situation with her. Along with Ruby, there are many intriguing characters met along the way. As it is a disaster situation, most of them are not in the story for long, but I believe that is the way things would be in such a situation. Not every story will get a resolution. I absolutely loved the premise of the killer rain. The panic and breakdown in society from the fear of the environment and limited supply of water is a terrifying thought, and the author did an excellent job of writing that. She also did a good job of invoking the pain and sadness of so much loss of life, which is the basis of my one complaint. There is one chapter that is totally unnecessary and what I would call emotional blackmail. I won’t spoil what happens, but while heartbreaking, it did not need to be present, as the author had already given multiple reasons for the reader’s heart to be broken that were actually cohesive with the plot. Contriving situations to evoke an emotional response from the reader is one of my pet peeves, as it seems there is no trust put in the reader to pick up all of the emotions already present. I would have dropped it an entire star had I not loved the rest of the book so much, but I still feel the need to point that out here. In short, if you love a good natural disaster novel and don’t mind having your heart broken, “H2O” is a wonderful choice for upper middle graders and up. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.