Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
There's a lot of darkness in young adult fiction lately -- especially with all the dystopian fiction. Not a Drop to Drink is about as far from dystopian as you can get since it actually takes place out in the rural areas after some sort of environmental disaster that made water extremely scarce. The protagonist, Lynn, and her mother live near a small, clean pond and are so afraid of it becoming contaminated that they'll shoot anyone who comes near. It seems excessive, but maybe it isn't -- as people gather together near the few remaining water sources, they overcrowd and all sorts of diseases recur (including cholera).
This all starts the book off with a tense, claustrophobic feel that's made worse by the fact that there are terrible people out there and definitely people who would take Lynn's home and pond from her.
Lynn, herself, is a fascinating character -- both hard and a bit cruel, but also naive. She was born in this world and has never known another way to survive. Her character arc is great and explores nature versus nurture in quite a few interesting ways. She, however, does not really know much about the science of the world so we are not given that information either. This doesn't harm the narrative at all, I think, because too much explanation might make things seem too easily solved and would definitely take away the fear of the unknown.
This book needs that kind of fear, because the contrast between danger and home life needs to feel like an impassable divide. The story stays both action-packed and introspective, but never preachy, even when it explores the ideas of family and compassion. It is most certainly the kind of story that will stay with you for a long while.
My only real nitpick is the misquoted Coleridge that the ex-English major mother uses. I was reading an ARC copy, so perhaps it will be fixed in the final publication... But I imagine not, as it mimics the title of the book.