‘Dry’ captivates, alarms with cautionary tale of water deficiency

With the world running low on resources, the threat of running out of water came to fruition in California.

“Dry,” Neal Shusterman’s latest book, co-written with his son Jarrod Shusterman, explores what would happen if the United States ran out of water.

Like many of Shusterman’s books, the story is told from the point of view of multiple characters. That is one of the reasons I enjoy his book. You’re able to see what’s going on from all sides of the story, not just one. “Dry” also includes snapshots of what’s happening elsewhere in the story, which foreshadows characters that are seen later in the book.

“Dry” follows Alyssa Morrow, a teenage girl living in California during the extreme drought, nicknamed “the Tap-Out.” With FEMA’s attention focused on a hurricane on the other side of the country, the abrupt decision by Arizona and Nevada to effectively cut off the flow of the Colorado River into Southern California is only a regional story.

“That’s what the media’s been calling the drought, ever since people got tired of hearing the word drought,” Alyssa explains in the book. “Kind of like the way ‘global warming’ became ‘climate change,’ and ‘war’ became ‘conflict.’ But now they’ve got a new catchphrase. A new stage in our water woes. They’re calling this the ‘Tap-Out.’”

The arduous journey this book tells begins once Alyssa’s parents don’t return from seeking desalinated water. Alyssa and her younger brother Garrett begin their journey by searching for their parents, while defending themselves against the chaos that has broken out.

But they are not alone. Along the way, they are joined by their survivalist neighbor, Kelton; a lone wolf, Jacqui; and an opportunist, Henry.

Although their story only takes place during the course of a few days, the devolution of society makes this gripping story seem like a distant future, not something that could happen over night. Things get violent very quickly. Panic leads to riots and death.

Martial law is declared and people are herded into evacuation camps. But even there, there’s not enough water for everyone. The more and more desperate people become, safety becomes even more inaccessible.

Alyssa and the others struggle to seek hydration and safety, while trying to wait out the Tap-Out. They are quickly forced to make life-or-death decisions for survival, though.

“Dry” is both captivating and alarming. I couldn’t put it down the whole time I was reading it. The book shows what may be our society’s near and terrifying future. It outlines the perils of rising temperatures. The Shustermans have written a story close enough to what could happen if the world really does begin to run out of water.

I give “Dry” a 10 out of 10.

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