After a massive water drought strikes Southern California, people there scramble to find water, while riots and looting begin happening. That’s the world authors Neal Shusterman and his son Jarrod (the latter making his literary debut) create in their new novel Dry. Our protagonists, next door neighbors & high school students Alyssa and Kelton, along with Alyssa’s ten-year-old brother Garrett, find themselves separated from their parents and forced to find a source of water quickly. There’s a hidden bunker with sufficient water & supplies that Kelton’s survivalist father built further up the state line that Kelton, Alyssa & Garrett decide to find. Along the way they pick up two strays, Jacqui, a slightly crazed 19-year-old, and Henry, another high school student (maybe…) who tries to profit financially from the crisis & attempts to play the others against each other. As events unfold/unravel, the rest of the population in the area are gradually turning on each other, brush fires are getting out of control (no water, remember?), and massive military forces are flying in by the load. Will Alyssa & her group survive the ensuing chaos?
Dry, like Courtney Summers’ recent Sadie, relies on multiple narratives from the five aforementioned characters, plus various bystanders, which helps it succeed as a credible Doomsday thriller. (SPOILER ALERT!) Despite a hastily wrapped up happy ending that seems kind of out of place, Dry is an exciting suspense adventure thriller. Note: Scenes of implied and actual violence, a near rape and some killings may be a little too intense for younger readers. Suggested for grades 9-12.