Not a Drop to Drink

Not a Drop to Drink

by Mindy McGinnis


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Fans of classic frontier survival stories, as well as readers of dystopian literature, will enjoy this futuristic story where water is worth more than gold. New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant says Not a Drop to Drink is a debut "not to be missed." With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl's journey in a frontierlike world not so different from our own.

Teenage Lynn has been taught to defend her pond against every threat: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and most important, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty—or doesn't leave at all. Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. But when strangers appear, the mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won't stop until they get it. . . .

For more in this gritty world, join Lynn on an epic journey to find home in the companion novel, In a Handful of Dust.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062198518
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/26/2014
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 182,579
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Mindy McGinnis is the author of Not a Drop to Drink and its companion, In a Handful of Dust, as well as This Darkness Mine, The Female of the Species, Given to the Sea, Heroine, and the Edgar Award–winning novel A Madness So Discreet. A graduate of Otterbein University with a BA in English literature and religion, Mindy lives in Ohio. You can visit her online at

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Not a Drop to Drink 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best of both worlds: gritty realistic frontier adventure paired with a futuristic dystopian world view. Quality literature for teens and adults!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed my attention from the first sentence. The plot was new, even though there are a lot of dystopia type books out there. The characters were likeable and you found yourself rooting for them. I wonder if this will be a series, I almost think not based on the epilogue. If I had one complaint about this book it would be that I was left with too many questions, the author didn't spend time explaining the past... what started this new world?!? I would have also liked to know more about Lynn and her mother's relationship and past. If the author does write another book to follow up on this one, I would recommened starting where the epilogue left off and having Lynn learn more of the past by her new neighbors in conversation. Overall, this really was a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good book! The survival aspect reminded me of "The Walking Dead" (and truly, I expected zombies up until the very last page). Lynn was such a kickass, stoic heroine that I was transfixed by her character development - where most survival stories seem to be about going numb, it was incredible to watch Lynn develop compassion and I was rooting for her the whole time. She kind of reminded me of Tris from DIVERGENT, in that she goes from being aloof to passionate, kicking ass the whole way. I love that this book stands alone, and the way this story is as brave as our main character. There's no pandering to be found here. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Would recommend it to anyone - adults, teens, Hunger Games fans, Little House fans, readers who don't like genre-fiction and readers who DO.
ChristinaReadsYA More than 1 year ago
Ten Likes/Dislikes: 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for female readers. Very strong female protagonists. My favorite apocalyptic novel to date.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It cusses throughout the book and I thought it could have been a bit more fast paced/scary but other than that it was good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My jaw dropped several times while reading this book. I love books that make me go wow did the author really just do that. Best book I'v read so far this year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started this late Saturday night and finished it Sunday afternoon. It grabbed me and never let go. If this is what you look for in a story then get it, but don't expect a sweet happy story it's not that kind of book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The cover and title of this book took me suprise and i was so excited to read it. In a few short words, inspiring, captivating, astonishing, and many more words. I really enjoyed this book. The authour brought a new type of character to th scene, a charater whos motives and actions were much dfferent from characters that i had previously read about in books. It was very interesting and totally worth reading. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the manner of "Dog Star," this post apocaliptic nover is thoroughly a fast moving, gripping and sad novel. I loved it. Lucy and Lynn are heroic. This is a different kind of survival narrative. Ms. McGinnis did a nice job.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
When I first heard of this book, I was put off of by the title of it. An entire book about having no water? But then I realized what that would mean if it were to ever happen... Death to humans, plants, and animals alike, and this story became a lot more interesting and I needed to know what would happen.  Something I will say, McGinnis is not afraid to give her readers the FEELS. They were all over the place in this book. From heart stopping moments to awwww moments. It was full of them. I would love to explain, but I can't for fear of spoilers. Just be prepared if you're planning on reading this sometime soon. One thing I did think it was lacking was adventure. I wanted the villain to appear a little more just to make them fight more. Had the events in the end of the novel been spread sporadically through out it, I would have rated this 5 stars. But for the most part I was a little bored. There were times when I was like O_O but then nothing like that what happen again for a bunch more pages.As for the characters. I liked them and the writing because they fit together so well. I couldn't really connect with Lynn, but I felt that was because she had a hard exterior due to the situation she was in. And the writing flowed so nicely, ironic in a world where water doesn't anymore. I just wish I could have been given a clearer picture of the world surrounding them. I'm a huge fan of world building (which is why I'm not a huge fan of dystopians... I haven't found one I just LOVE yet.) and while McGinnis gives us a glimpse in the beginning and then again when winter starts, I was still left wanting more.    In short, this was a good dystopian to help me start expanding my horizon  It had a solid romance and some thrills that I didn't see coming. This was a solid debut that gave me all the feels! I can't wait to see what else McGinnis has up her sleeve.  
Anonymous 12 months ago
Excellent story! Gripping throughout, filled with excitement, and leaves you craving more.
224perweek More than 1 year ago
It was good but only for about the first 3/4 of the story. I don't know what happened. It just got dull. Then the author added in the militia and then it became the same old same old kind of story. I would have given it a five star review except for those things.
18876111 More than 1 year ago
This book really is about survival, while there were times I didn't think the title fit the book, there were others where it made complete sense. I really loved Lynn and how she cared for Lucy. I felt that Lynn really grew as a character, she actually started to care more and she learned to accept help from others. I'm curious to see what happens in the second book.
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BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
Getting around to writing this review has taken me far too long; the only excuse I have, and it's real, is that I was so drained by it (in a good way) and, even today, find it difficult to express myself well. What struck me most was the desolation, not only physical but emotional. It seemed that 16-year-old Lynn had little or nothing to live for and, yet, her mother tried so hard to instill in Lynn an appreciation of the things that society in general had lost by teaching her to read and write, to love poetry. She also taught her daughter the realities of survival, to have a healthy fear of others who would gladly kill them for food, possessions and, most of all, water. How sad is it, then, to realize that, in her childhood, Lynn had never spoken to anyone except her mother, had never heard a man speak her name before Stebbs, the one man who lived nearby and had never harmed them. He had come to them when he was hurt and she was 6 years old. Now Lynn thinks they could have a partnership and she needs that because coyotes killed her mother after Lynn accidentally shot her in the leg trying to protect her from the raiding animals. One big coyote is pack leader and he is as important to this story as any of the humans. Stebbs is emotional about Mother's death---maybe he loved her? She had come to him when Lynn was a baby to join forces but he turned her away, said he could only be responsible for himself. The rejection made her hard and she rejected him when he tried to stay after getting hurt. Stebbs is a man with secrets and contradictions but also a man who seems to care in his own way. Then there are other people, specifically Streamers---people living near a stream, with no evidence they have guns, who don't know any better than to burn green wood, who are not moving on before winter. These are probably city people with no buckets so they can't leave the stream. Stebbs and Lynn agree he'll watch the pond while she investigates their camp when there's been no smoke for two days and Lynn finds Lucy, Eli and Neva. Neva is Lucy's mom, Eli is 16 and is Neva's brother-in-law, Lucy is 5. The family had tried to escape the city, Entargo, because Neva was pregnant and a second child is illegal but her husband was shot. The three are living by the stream in a brush shelter and Lynn and Stebbs must decide how they'll handle this situation. The Streamers are in desperate straits but to take them in could be a true burden. Then they discover that people to the south, already known as deadly and cruel, will play a crucial role in their lives and their future, shaky as it might be. Heartbreak is coming but Lynn is also going to learn that people need to help each other if humanity is to survive with any sense of decency. The setting for Not a Drop to Drink is Ohio, not far from Lake Erie. The Second War for Oil has led to all the devastation and the water shortage as well as the destruction of the society Lynn's mother and others of her generation had known. Ms. McGinnis built her world so well that I could easily visualize their surroundings (especially when they would go to the roof) but her characters stood out, every one of them down to an elderly coyote. Lynn herself is a mass of conflicting ideas and emotions and watching her on the path to maturity is worth every turn of the page. As a devotee of post-apocalyptic fiction, I have a mental file of the very best---Not a Drop to Drink is one of them and I'll be continuing with Lynn's stor
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book and the author so much I got the second book too. Hated when they both ended!
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WulfLuva More than 1 year ago
So the world is dry… And it perfectly encapsulates how to describe Not a Drop to Drink. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did. I even read it in less than 24 hours (That could be because it was the first book I have been able to read in more than a month that wasn’t school-related.) and I plan on reading the sequel. However, the book wasn’t a knock-me-off-the-edge-of-my-seat kind of read. The ladies over at HarperTeen’s Tea Time had me expecting so much more. The book starts out introducing a character who isn’t really relatable in any way. She reminds me of Katniss a little in that she doesn’t seem to have any strong emotions during the first part of the book, but then you grow to see her softer side. But I thought that the softer side came about a little too easily. Lynn, the female protagonist, has been raised to shoot first and ask questions later, so why did sixteen years of training suddenly fly out the window? I couldn’t really understand how she changed so much in such a small time period when she’d been engrained to act and to act fast. The secondary characters were less confusing, but still not completely relatable. I couldn’t understand why Stebb, Lynn’s neighbor, stayed out of Lynn and her mother’s lives’ so much. McGinnis gave an explanation, but I just couldn’t find it believable considering people could use as much help as they could get in this world. Now Lucy, the young girl with the family that’s almost encroaching on Lynn’s territory, is cute. I like how she brings out the goodness in Lynn, I just didn’t like how similar their names were—both start with L’s and both are four letters long. I had trouble distinguishing the names at times. Additionally, the love interest, Eli, is supposed to be interesting, but while I liked him, I didn’t love him. He wasn’t even in the book enough for me to really even get to know him. The world building is good, and I enjoyed the background, but there was one thing I couldn’t understand. Why would people move farther south for water? Wouldn’t the water have dried up there more than it would if you go farther north? I know it’s cold in the north, but I still don’t get why you would move somewhere where water evaporates even more. And I guess that’s another thing that I find odd—there was no explanation for why the water was gone. I found the ending to be completely unsatisfactory. And that’s all I can really say about that without some major spoilage. All in all, this book is a quick and entertaining read. It’s just, when you actually start thinking about why these characters are doing what they’re doing, and why the world is the way it is, you realize that some things don’t quite add up. I’d recommend this book for anyone who just wants a light (not in a cute and fluffy contemporary way, it still has blood and guts in it) dystopian read. 3/5 stars *Note: I purchased this book for myself.
JCasey31 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I wish that it was in the 1st person so that we could experience Lynn's evolution first-hand. I am a big fan of books in this genre and this tops my list!
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