Book: The Water Wars
Author: Cameron Stracher
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: January 1, 2011
Source: Ebook purchased for Kindle
Summary: (from 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.
First impressions: I was really anxious to read this book. I got swept up in the world right away. This is my ultimate nightmare scenario, and one that could realistically come to fruition. Stracher does a nice job setting up this dry, dusty, water-starved world. I found it believable and disturbing.
Lasting impressions: I didn't connect to this book the way I thought I would. There was something missing for me, and though I really wanted to fall in love with this book, in the end it wasn't what I thought it would be.
Conflicting impressions: I lacked a strong connection to the characters. It felt like Stracher was writing from a distance, and so even when the action was heart-pounding, I wasn't invested in the outcome.
Overall impressions: When the story begins, we are introduced to a world with very strict access to water. Companies are mining the oceans and desalinizing water for consumption - at a price. The rich water miners have to travel by armored guard. The poor have to spend large portions of their income on water with a chemical aftertaste.
Access to potable water is a very important issue, and unfortunately this book seemed more focused on the issue than the story. We follow Vera and her brother Will on a wild journey from their home territory of Illinowa, through Minnesota, and into Canada, desperate to find their new friend Kai. They fear he has been kidnapped by pirates, and it is the pirates who end up stealing this story.
There are good pirates, bad pirates, scientists, miners who exploit children, greedy corporations and evil politicians. It was in the balance of all of these characters and mixed interests that the story seemed to get away from Stracher, with the focus more on the water and who has the right to it over the initial interest in whether the children will ever get home safely.
I wanted to see Vera struggle more, love more, and learn more from her adventure. She barely knows this boy, and asks her brother to accompany her on what appears to be a suicide mission in order to find him. The farther she travels, the more she discovers about this world, and that the good guys aren't always good and the bad guys aren't always bad. Yet she doesn't seem to process any of this, remaining stubbornly fixated on Kai without understanding the power he holds. I felt that as the reader I learned more from her journey than she did.
Despite my disappointments, the writing is well done and the book is a quick and exciting read. I recommend it particularly to anyone with an interest in discussing environmental issues, as the book does a great job raising awareness about the fight for scarce resources.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Want a different perspective? Check out this four star review by i swim for oceans.