Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman
Walker, 2018. ISBN 9781406386851.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Droughts. Survival. California. Climate change. What would happen if suddenly there was no water in your house - nothing to drink, nothing to wash with or cook with, let alone use on the garden? This is what the collaboration between Neal and Jarrod Shusterman explores as the people in California find that their taps have been turned off. When Alyssa's parents go missing on a mission to get water for their family, Alyssa and her little brother Garrett find themselves teaming up with their neighbour Kelton, the son of people who have prepared for Doomsday. They go on a dangerous quest to find water to keep themselves alive. Along the way they pick up others in an equally dire situation and discover just how people react when their lives are on the line.
This a frightening scenario that readers who are familiar with droughts and fights about water allocations will immediately identify with as it seems like a very real possibility in our world where water is a precious commodity and greed often overrides the needs of everyone. The duo describe in detail what could happen in a disaster when the taps are turned off. It is all too easy to imagine the chaos that the Tap-Out would cause, the way that neighbours would turn on each other, the slowness of officials to respond and how some people would take advantage of what is happening in a time of crisis as well as those who would help others.
The suspense is built up as the small group face danger as they venture on the road to find water and each person's character, strengths and weaknesses are brought to light as they face difficult decisions and events.
Fans of Neal Shusterman will find this collaboration as riveting as his other books as will people who enjoy the challenge of speculative fiction. It would make for lively and uncomfortable discussion as a class novel or literature circle book (A discussion guide is available from the publisher).