Spare, evocative prose quickly draws the reader into a harsh world where survival is the number one priority and human relationships are a distant second. There are no flowery, romanticized descriptions here, and that works to make the writing as starkly atmospheric as the setting of the story itself.
The characters are fascinating and come to live on the page in tiny details and small actions. The heroine, Lynn, is different from other heroines I've read in dystopian literature in that she is truly shaped by her upbringing and environment and has the scars to prove it, but she is able to grow tremendously throughout the story. She is a survivalist through and through, and is sometimes difficult to relate to for the reader because her emotions are so submerged beneath her staunch practicality and do-or-die mindset. When she comes in contact with other people halfway through the story, we see her mindset slowly shift--not *change*, but shift--as she slowly opens her heart to relationships. She is still a survivalist to the end, but now she extends her do-or-die mindset to include the survival of those she's come to love.
The plot is as much about survival against the elements and against the threat of bad people as it is about Lynn's journey toward learning how to be part of a small community. The balance between outside threats and relational growth is expertly rendered, and readers who prefer relationships and romance will be just as satisfied with that balance as readers who prefer harsh dystopian themes alone. This is an excellent book for reluctant readers, and I would recommend it for both male and female readers.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I think the author took a huge risk with the ending of this story, and I applaud her for it. I think the ending certainly remains true to the setting of the world, and some readers are going to appreciate that. Other readers are going to be upset and wish for a little bit more hope and happiness at the end of Lynn's journey. I fall into the "please give me a bit more hope" category, but I want to note that there *is* hope at the end of the book. There is a paradigm shift in Lynn's outlook and situation, and it's a topic worth discussing. I'm just a romantic at heart and wanted a bit more.
I also wanted more information on how the world got into the state it's in when the story opens. There are a few references here and there, but I couldn't get a solid picture of what caused the water shortage, how far ahead in history the story takes place, or what sort of government, if any, still existed beyond the one city Lynn knows about.
NOT A DROP TO DRINK is an gritty, compelling story that is as much about survival of the human heart as it is about beating the odds in a harsh, dystopian world.