Format: Hardcover | 240 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science-Fiction
Description (Goodreads): "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 dammed, 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 corporations. Timely and eerily familiar, acclaimed author Cameron Stracher makes a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget."
Opening thought: Yes, it does have a pretty cover (amazing, actually), but the story and characters need serious development. ASAP.
It's the near future. Wells, rivers, lakes and all other sources of potable water (including the polar caps, if you can believe it) have dried up reducing the world population drastically and leaving the remaining struggling to survive. Drinkable water is rare and expensive and most people are diseased and die quickly from dehydration. Constant wars for water break out amongst territories.
This is the world where Vera and Will, two teenagers, live. Their life is one long search for a few drops of condensation or just clean water to give their sick mother. Until they meet Kay...
I liked the premise of this book: Humankind with our wasteful ways have finally destroyed the Ecosystem then panicked when water started becoming a rarity. So what did we do? What we do best of course! A few chosen ones dammed the remaining water and sold it to the rest. Typical. Chilling. Horrifying. All of that certainly. The thing is... the way the author wrote the story, I didn't really feel horrified. It didn't have the impact I am sure he intended it to have.
That, because the writing and pace didn't really pull me in. The book opens with Vera, the protagonist and narrator, meeting the strange Kai at a bus stop. Their interaction from there on, were very... middle-grade-ish (no I don't mean there was no hot romance... they just looked younger than their ages). That bothered me and prevented me from feeling the true rawness of the world Stracher created.
Then, when Kai disappeared it got a lot worse. Vera and her brother decided, out of the blue, to go looking for him. As they got away from their country and encountered various dangers everything seemed less and less realistic.
To be honest, most of this book reads like a kids adventure book, with the strangest allies appearing out of nowhere. Most characters weren't really fleshed-out, especially the villains who were just... typical villains. All they lacked was the trademark evil laugh. No really.
As for the plot besides not being realistic, I felt that the half-explanations sprinkled throughout the book about how the water shortage came about were insufficient to give the reader a view of what went wrong. I mean, how and why did the water disappear? Was it a gradual thing or not? None of these are answered. So basically there is no link to the past, no real explanation of how the world became like that.
Overall, "The Water Wars" is another one of those books. You know the ones with the great concept but flawed execution. With so many dystopias and/or apocalyptical books appearing lately this one doesn't stand out at all. It needed a lot more back story, more world building and better characters.