Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Published: January 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
(240 pages, hardcover)
Summary: Welcome to a future where water is more precious than gold or oil-and worth killing for.
Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are damned, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy cooporations. Timely and eerily familiar acclaimed author Cameron Stracher males a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget.
My thoughts: The Water Wars was an eerie, intriguing look on what might happen with the degradation of society as we know it, and a great debut from Stracher. I didn't really connect with the main characters all that well, but the story line and intense, disturbing concept mostly made up for that. The world that Vera lives in is a desolate, waterless world; water is rationed and most is desalinated ocean water that makes hundreds sick and kills even more. As Vera's mother gets sicker and the world seems even more hopeless, Vera meets Kai, the boy who spills water without care and acts as if the world is at his feet. Then, one day, Kai stops showing up, and when Vera and Will, her older brother, discover his bodyguard dead at his home, they set off on a life-threatening journey to find and rescue him.
I loved the premise: what if the world ran out of its water supply and all that was left was undrinkable, disease-ridden salt water left? Stracher writes with a dark overtone that makes the novel at once fantastic, mysterious, and realistic. The book starts out kind of slow and eventually progresses into a fast-paced, action-adventure story that makes you keep turning pages late into the night. It was definitely an unforgettable world that Stracher created. And I loved how much action there was, and I'm hoping for a sequel or at least another novel set in the same setting.
Ulysses, the water pirate, was my favorite character, because he seemed to be the only one with a lot of depth. Vera was kind of invisible, despite her being the main character and the POV character. She just seemed a little bit weak and ignorant. Will was a nice character, but again, he sort of faded to the background when it came to the novel's overall story arc. He was stronger than Vera, certainly, and I loved how loyal they were to each other, but the siblings just weren't all that memorable. On the other hand, Ulysses was a mysterious character, and I would hope to see more of him in future novels (if there are any). Kai was an interesting character too, and although he wasn't physically in much of the novel, he was a strong presence when he was, and I didn't really understand much of the mechanics of how his 'divining' skills worked either. I also liked Vera, whose history wasn't fully revealed, but was still a strong, interesting secondary character.
The writing was really good, and it added a lot to the story. The long paragraphs explaining the history of their world sometimes seemed a little out of place and elongated. But overall, the way Stracher writes was delicate and gritty at the same time. The plot was a little crazy and all over the place at times. In fact, I couldn't help but feel that Stracher tried to include too many challenges and actions scenes in the last 150 pages. Still The Water Wars is a good, solid read, and while it definitely could have been better, it was a quick, fluid novel.
Covering the Cover: I love the cover; it's captivating and simple. Definitely one that catches the eye.
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars


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