Monday, April 18, 2011

The Water Wars - Cameron Stracher

Title: The Water Wars
Author: Cameron Stracher
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, 2011
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Adventure, Science Fiction
Started: April 17, 2011
Finished: April 18, 2011

From the inside cover:
Would you risk everything for someone you just met? What if he had a secret worth killing for?

Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...

Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.

But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret-something the government is keeping from us...

And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him-and the truth-before it is too late for all of us.

I loved the concept of this book when I first read it, a dystopian novel based on a world where water is a rare resource. In spite of the fact that it turned out to be more of an adventure story than dystopian, I was disappointed with what I read. The concept and the world presented here hold a lot of promise but the execution falls short.

We meet our narrator, Vera, and her brother Will right away, as well as Kai, the mysterious boy whose behaviour baffles them. Almost as quickly, we find out that Kai has been kidnapped for some reason, and Vera and Will make the hasty decision to go after Kai and rescue him. After encounters with friendly pirates, world governments, and evil corporations, things wrap up rather conveniently with a happy ending...all in less than 250 pages.

Needless to say, the world has a wonderful concept: water shortages, rations, rampant sickness, synthetic food, political turmoil; but nothing is developed enough to make it believable or make the reader invested in the outcome. Vera, Will, Kai, and the other characters are very one-dimensional. I couldn't care less about Kai being rescued, and after a while, I thought Vera and Will were morons for running off after him without knowing a heck of a lot about him. Everything happens way too fast and falls oh so conveniently into place, I had a really skeptical look on my face the whole time I was reading it. Plus, the whole thing was more of an adventurous romp rather than a more serious take on the themes (water as a precious resource, political control over water), and I think I'd have had more respect for this book if the wonderful themes had been handled more appropriately.

Wonderful premise, but really poorly executed. I would love another author to take this on.

Thoughts on the cover:
Really pretty and eye-catching. Ironically, the cover is the best part of this novel.

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