November 19, 2011

2011 Cybils: Dry Souls, by Denise Geston

Reader Gut Reaction: A surprisingly hopeful dystopia - not exactly a happy ending, as there are some horrific losses and details not tidily tied up, but a solid debut novel, and the first in a realistic dystopian series.

Kira's life has been spent knowing that water isn't something to play with. It isn't something to wash in too often, either. And forget about plants - it's illegal to grow things for personal use, and nobody can grow flowers. Water is just too precious for that, and is rigidly controlled and rationed.

Concerning Character: Kira is difficult, and a loner -- or so she's always been told. It might be because in the girls' home where she lives, she rarely gets space or privacy, and the rumor persists that her mother was a freak. When Kira discovers a tiny wildflower growing outside, she hoards water for its survival, harvesting even her spit to help keep it alive. This discovery is worth the risk of making a friend, but her change in behavior has other girls circling suspiciously.

And then, Kira makes a terrifying discovery... that leads to a betrayal and a change in her life which forces her to question everything she's ever known. The world has lost water - but it wasn't a loss. The water was polluted and ruined. It might be that the world can be made right again -- but is it Kira who can make it right?
Recommended for Fans Of...: Drought, by Pam Bachorez, Water Wars by Cameron Stracher, or Saci Lloyd's The Carbon Diaries series.

Themes & Things: Traditional dystopian motifs abound, including first being seduced by, then later subverting the power of the state. Kira's eventual escape is a happy surprise, and her decision to partner with those who have suffered to benefit the great good reminds me a lot of Tally Youngblood's determination in Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld.

Cover Chatter: The girl's face in cracked earth makes for a great cover - it works, and though it's been done before - generally for lotion commercials - it makes the points needed.

Amusingly, this book is put out by CBAY Books - and the letters stand for Children's Brains Are Yummy. Sadly, there are no zombies in this novel...

You can find DRY SOULS at an independent bookstore near you!


Sarah Stevenson said...

Ooh, interesting...I've been thinking a bit about water and who controls it in relation to the project I'm working on now. So I might have to look for this one. But really, Children's Brains Are Yummy? HA!

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