Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Genre: YA Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, Survival, Dystopia, Family
Publication: October 2nd 2018 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: None. Standalone.
Length: 400 pages
Format: ARC (borrowed from a friend)
The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbours and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
Huge thanks to my friend Hazel from Stay Bookish for lending me her review copy of this title. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
The first time I’ve heard of Dry was only during Book Expo 2018. (I’m not a fan of Neal Shusterman yet and so I don’t really take the time to research him and his books, although I recently purchased Scythe and Thunderhead and am now waiting for them to arrive.) A lot of the people I follow online, my friend Alex from The Books Buzz included, kept on hyping up this book everywhere after having read it, and I immediately got intrigued since I trust her for awesome book recs. See, unlike the rest of the reading population, I have never read a book by Neal or Jarrod Shusterman before and I’m hoping that this could hopefully introduce me to them and their writing style.
Set against the backdrop of modern-day Southern California, Dry is pitched as a post-apocalyptic story about a time when water literally dries out due to the deathly effects of climate change, told from several points of view, giving readers several angles from which the story can be read.
One of the many things that I loved about this book and the way it was written is the multiple POVs. I very much enjoyed my time getting to know the main characters of the story, and I find that the author duo did an amazing job in giving all of them their own voices and individuality. I love how they introduced them into the story one by one, not at all crowding certain scenes. I hate it when at the start of a story, I get to meet hundreds of characters instantly because it makes me hella confused, and this wasn’t the case for Dry at all. Through Neal and Jarrod’s writing, we get to see how 4 kids (some would say 5) try to navigate through the drought with the use of only their wits and resourcefulness. And I loved seeing how their varying personalities came into play when it came to surviving—some brought out guns, some only made use of their negotiation skills—and it taught me so much as to how even if ALL OF US had one common goal, we all have very different ways of achieving it.
Another thing that I creepily adored about this novel is the unflinching way it was written. From the beginning, readers would know that the slow progression of the story’s conflict would instantly feel relatable because of how timely and relevant its central plot is. I don’t know if the authors intended for their readers to feel this, but I felt bad for the way I’ve treated mother nature in the past—I’m not the type of person who doesn’t know how to dispose waste properly, but I’m not an environmentalist either—and my friend Alex wasn’t kidding. This book really did make me feel like I needed to change. Right after reading certain scenes, I wanted to prepare emergency packs, first aid kits, etc. I even wanted to use re-usable straws, and tons of other eco-friendly stuff. It scared me, knowing how close we are to experiencing a real life tap-out, and yet lots of other people still disregard these kinds of issues. And I hope that when we begin to realize our mistakes, it’s not yet too late.
I also liked seeing the slow but definitely accurate degeneration of humans as they slowly gave in to their animalistic needs in order to get “that first sip”. To be honest, it was disturbing for me to read about how people could easily turn into wild and savage creatures because of hopelessness. And because of this, it was easy for me to root for and believe the story’s main characters Alyssa, Kelton, Garrett, and Jacqui. I became unsettled and wary every time I picked this book up, and continue reading about their survival and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting my reading experience for this any time soon. It moved me in ways I don’t think I’ve ever been moved before, and what makes it such a unique book is that it made me feel so many emotions while reading it. It made me mad, shocked, downright horrified, and whenever the MCs had small victories, it also made me feel satisfied. And for that, and also for writing such an impeccably horrifying but ultimately realistic story, I have to commend the Shustermans.
“Dry is a horrifyingly relevant and ultimately believable survival story that defined the thin line separating human normalcy and animalistic desperation. It’s modern setting and engaging storytelling allows for it to be truthful, believable and an undoubtedly great, unforgettable, and, hopefully, an eye-opening read. With this book, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman gripped my heart and soul with a story unlike any I’ve ever read. No doubt I’ll be reading more from them in the future.”
And just in case my review wasn’t enough to get you hooked, check out this aesthetic board that I made that’s inspired by Dry:
Have YOU read DRY yet? What other Neal Shusterman books have you read? And be sure to grab a copy of this from your local book store and start reading it! And once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!
JM is a 21 year old blogger from Manila. He has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management mainly because it was too late when he discovered that literature and publishing is his true calling. He enjoys reading contemporary and fantasy novels as much as he enjoys playing video games and baking pastries. You may find him on his book blog, Book Freak Revelations, also on Twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads.