THE WATER WARS by Cameron Stracher [Review]

Fans of young adult dystopian novels will want to take note of one of the latest entries in this genre, The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher. Fifteen-year-old Vera and her older brother, Will, live in a post-apocalyptic version of North America where water is a precious commodity. A catastrophic drought dried up all the lakes and rivers, leaving very little freshwater. Millions of people have died from dehydration and disease, and wars have been fought over the remaining water. The result is that the United States as we know it has been broken down into several republics, with each government strictly controlling any available water.

Will and Vera are always thirsty and dehydrated, as the government rationed desalinated water is never enough. That’s why they are so taken with this mysterious boy named Kai, who claims to know of a hidden river. Kai’s mother is dead and his father is traveling, so he begins hanging out with Vera and Will, until one day he goes missing. Vera and Will are worried about their new friend, and set out to find him.

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. Those of us in developed countries tend to take access to freshwater for granted, so it’s eye opening to imagine your life without it. The lack of clean water means rampant disease and dehydration. There’s no water for bathing, so people are never completely clean. And there’s little food since farmers can’t grow crops or raise animals without water. It’s a scenario far more haunting than any you’ll find in a vampire or zombie novel.

The Water Wars is filled with nonstop action and it moves along at a breathless pace. Vera and Will’s adventure is really crazy and, unfortunately, the middle of the book was a little too frantic for my taste. But the kids do meet some awesome characters along the way like the harpoon wielding Sula and Ulysses the pirate king.

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Sourcebooks | Pages: 256 | Source: Publicist | Buy on Amazon

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