DRY by NEAL + JARROD SHUSTERMAN
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
About halfway into Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman, I asked myself: Why did I think it was a good time to read this book? Not because the book is bad. On the contrary, it’s very good, but it is also almost too timely for its own good. Dry is the story of a fictionalized drought event called The Tap-Out, which affects Southern California. The Tap-Out is exactly what the name suggests. The tap water runs completely dry and no water can be found anywhere in Southern California. Enter our main characters, Alyssa and Kelton. Alyssa is smart and headstrong and an ot
herwise “normal” teenage girl while Kelton lives next door to her with his family of “preppers.” As in doomsday preppers. Kelton and his family are obsessed with preparing for the end of the world and their preparations come to a head when the Tap-Out begins.
Covering the course of a week, Dry is not only told from Alyssa and Kelton’s points of view, but the points of view of many other characters in the novel. Some characters make brief cameos for a couple of pages, but the scope of the cast gives Dry a feeling of scope. The Tap-Out is big and it impacts many, many people. That said, after the Tap-Out happens and Southern California completely runs out of water, the plot is fairly straightforward. Alyssa, Kelton, Garrett (Alyssa’s brother), and Jacqui (a fellow survivor they meet along their journey) decide to leave their homes in search of water, and absolute chaos ensues.
Dry is a terrifying novel. It’s terrifying because it’s all too real, especially with the wildfires raging in California as a result of climate change. The California depicted in Dry is not far off from real-life California. As I read this book it made me wonder if we’re not setting the stage for a Tap-Out. As terrifying as Dry is, it’s also highly readable and addicting. I kept wanting to the turn the pages, desperate to see what was going to happen next. Alyssa and Kelton’s journey gets more difficult as the days go and, and so much happens that it’s almost impossible to believe that this book takes place over the course of a week. Then, of course, you need to factor in how quickly humans will die without water. Which Alyssa and Kelton, along with Jacqui and Garrett, almost do. Multiple times.
I don’t want to give too much away at the risk of spoiling the plot. Dry is a book you need to go into knowing nothing but the concept. Just know that this survival story is thrilling indeed. Alyssa and Kelton are both great characters to read about, and the news articles and other bits from cameo characters interspliced throughout the book add a great dimension to the plot. It’s fun to see how these characters factor into the story as a whole. Jacqui, however, is my favorite character and I would love to see a spinoff novel about her. It would shoot to the top of my reading list.
You can find our copy of Dry at the Argenta Library today!