Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

August 22, 2013 5 Stars, Action-Packed, Awesome Twist, Kick-Ass Heroines, Mindy McGinnis, Post-Apocalyptic, Reviews 25 ★★★★★

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 24, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, 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. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. 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….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.
If I told you that a book with a heavy focus on the gathering, purification, and consumption of water was beautiful in an indescribable way, would you be tempted to side-eye me?  Don’t even think about it, because with Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis has written a book packed full of breath-taking moments, fantastic characters, and yes, lots of information about water.  Every author presented with the challenge of conveying a great deal of information to the reader, without making it seem like an information dump, should read this book. The way McGinnis describes each step in the purification process conveys its importance.  In this post-apocalytpic world, access to an ever-dwindling supply of clean water is the key to life, and every drop must be protected.

In Not a Drop to Drink, Lynn ekes out an existence with Mother.  Lynn was born into a time of extreme water scarcity, and she knows little beyond the area surrounding her house and small pond.  That small pond is not only the source of life for Lynn and Mother, but it is also a potential killer, since desperate people are willing to die to get a drink from it.  Lynn and Mother will kill to protect it, setting aside any compassion they might feel for someone risking death just for a drink, because the pond’s existence must be kept a secret.

Throughout her life, Lynn has experienced almost no social interaction with anyone other than Mother.  Mother has taught Lynn that no one is to be trusted, and every stranger is a potential murderer.  Mother kills the people who venture onto their property with no remorse, and she teaches Lynn to do the same.  Lynn’s world eventually opens up beyond the borders of her property, and as it does, new dangers and new opportunities present themselves.  Lynn’s whole world previously revolved around Mother, and now there are new people in her life.  Lynn has to make the choice to either remain isolated or to try to trust these outsiders, violating every lesson Mother ever taught her.

Not a Drop to Drink was even better than I had hoped, and my hopes were high.  There was so much to love here.  Lynn is a fabulous heroine, and she grows throughout the book in a very realistic way.  Mother’s views of the world are harsh, almost robotic, but she managed to keep herself and her daughter alive when many others perished.  McGinnis makes us feel compassion for even the least sympathetic character in the book as we gradually learn the reasons for her behavior.

About the ending…  Did McGinnis really just do THAT???  Oh, yes, she did.  When I managed to pull myself back together, I could fully appreciate the beauty of this book, the best I’ve read in 2013.

I can’t wait to hear what you all think about Not a Drop to Drink.  And if you’d like to discuss THAT ENDING, please put a prominent spoiler alert in your comment!

Review posted at Goodreads.


25 Responses to “Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis”

  1. Mada Sch

    At first I thought it was a book that had to do with zombies, but then I read the synopsis and it made me curious. And your review made me even more interested in this novel, it sounds really interesting – I would have never thought of writing a story centered around water (as in water scarcity and struggling to stay alive).

    Mada Sch @ Confiture de rêves.

  2. Nikki

    I love that this book is a little different from many of the other post-apocalyptic books out there, especially because the subject matter is so relevant to today. Like, that could ACTUALLY happen! Talk about scary! Also, I really enjoy when an author puts dimension to unsympathetic characters, because let’s face it, villains have their sensitive sides too! But seriously, people are multi-faceted so characters should be too. I will definitely be checking this one out!

  3. Kim

    You just made me so excited to read this book! I’ve been wondering about it, but — for some reason — the premise really didn’t stick with me. But I’ve read a lot of posts by the author and was thinking I’d give it a try anyway. Now I’m sure I will. The ending sounds really intriguing!

  4. Jana

    Ooooo… You make this sound amazing! I’ve heard a ton of great stuff about Not a Drop to Drink, and I can’t wait to read it! Lynn sounds like a great heroine, and I love the premise. 🙂

    – Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

  5. Diane


    I really loved this book. So well done. The pacing couldn’t have been better. Even when seemingly nothing is happening the plot was building. It is always a challenge to share information with the reader about the world in a compelling way. This was spot on.

    I personally hate any books that include sexual violence, and I found this to be done in such a tasteful way, the author really had her young readers in mind. I liked that Lynn was so very clueless about all kinds of human interaction that she had to learn everything. It was horrifying to the reader, not because we knew what was happening, but because Lynn was learning for the first time that it could happen.

    Lastly, and here is where the spoiler comes in. This is the first time in a long time where killing off a character makes so much sense. It was surprising and devastating, but at the same time, did we really expect her to live happily ever after with the first boy she ever meets? He served his purpose in so many ways, and went into the situation knowing the risk. He was going to die either way – due to lack of water or fighting for those he loved.

    I wouldn’t have picked this up except for the glowing review here, and I’m glad I did!

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