The Water Wars, by Cameron Stracher – Book Review

Vera and her brother, Will, live in the Republic of Illinowa – what is left of what was once the midwestern United States.  The country has been dissolved into six self governing republics with strict borders. Food is quasi-real, of questionable quality, and expensive, while money and employment are hard to come by. Water is carefully collected, strictly rationed and a resource worthy of  perpetrating criminal activity for, or even risking death. When siblings Vera and Will befriend Kai, a wealthy and enigmatic teenager with seemingly unlimited access to water, they relentlessly try to prise from him the secrets of his source, little realizing the danger about to descend upon them through their association with him.

The world building that starts off Cameron Stracher’s highly anticipated debut YA novel, The Water Wars is fantastic. I truly believed in the picture that he painted of thirsty people with dry skin, living in deteriorating conditions and fearful of violence.  If you never considered just how vital water is and how much it impacts daily life, then you definitely will after reading the first pages of this book.  Stracher also conveyed how politics, secret allegiances and fighting amongst the governments were at best at the expense of the people, and at the worst perpetrated in an effort to control them.  The plot moves along at a brisk pace, and there is a lot of adventure and action as Vera and Will attempt to locate Kai, who goes missing under dubious circumstances.

While the aspects of this novel concerning water and politics were well researched and constructed, thin characterizations, lack of detail or sometimes conflicting details, made this a shaky read for me after the excitement over the initial world-building. A big part of the problem is that the relationship between Vera and Kai happened much too quickly, they meet once – suddenly the family is spending a fortune they don’t have in food to invite him over for dinner, and then after a few vague visits traded back and forth, Vera is risking her life, and forcing her brother to risk his, for a stranger they are not even remotely prepared to help.  There just wasn’t enough between them to convince me that this was rational on her part, so I spent the rest of the time distracted by how little sense it made.  The search for Kai happens in almost episodic chapters, barely connected to each other, when the kids are passed along from one set of bad guys to the next – some of whom they inexplicably manage to bond with.

The makings of a good story were here, but something went wrong for me in the details and execution.

Read More Reviews At:  Presenting Lenore – Voracious Yappetite – Reading AddictReading With Tequila
1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Happy New Year!

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  1. I like how you have provided reasons for your discontent with this book. I’ve read a lot of good reviews, but everything you say makes sense. I think sometimes, just to prevent a book from being a huge monstrosity, relationships are expedited. I’d rather read an extra hundred or two pages and feel more of an investment.

  2. Definitely an interesting world being created, but I have real problems with a book when character motivation isn’t developed and logical. That is a problem I often have with romances in YAL. I’m just not a “love at first sight” kind of person.

  3. Too bad this one didn’t live up to your expectations. I do like dystopian worlds so I may go ahead and put this one on the list anyway and eventually check it out. The premise sounds good.

    1. Ditto… although this kind of fantasy is exceptionally difficult to pull off; there may be some leniency for Young Adult readers reading this book as opposed to us adults who have read The Handmaidens Tale, The Dispossessed and other such works.

  4. Sorry to hear the premise fell apart. I was excited as I was reading the first part of the review. The premise sound really good but I have to have characters and relationships between them that make sense so I’m afraid I would probably feel the same as you if I read this one.

  5. I couldn’t seem to get Water World with Kevin Costner out of my mind when I was reading your review and that probably didn’t make me too excited to read the book!