Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

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Post-apocalyptic novels are usually populated with badass characters, but, even so, Lynn from Mindy McGinnis’ Not a Drop to Drink, stands out. Raised by her mother to survive, she’s more likely to shoot first and ask questions later and quickly learns to trust no one except herself. When Lynn’s mother dies in a horrible accident, leaving Lynn completely alone, she can only rely on the lessons her mother taught her and her wits to survive. But Lynn isn’t her mother and she sees shades of gray where her mother only saw black and white. Suddenly, the  lessons she thought she could rely on to guide her actions don’t seem to apply and Lynn is a facing a whole different kind of danger: friendship, love, and duty. Lynn develops relationships that introduce her to new found emotions and an unfamiliar sense of connectedness… and, suddenly, her survival might not be the most important goal.

I immediately felt a connection with Lynn. I think I was especially drawn to her no nonsense attitude and the practical skills she’s been taught by her mother, things I feel the women in my own family also inherit from generation to generation. She’s a strong, resourceful, intelligent individual who thrives in the barren life she’s been given. She has no experience with other people, apart from her mother, yet she has an innate sense of compassion, seemingly at odds with the bleak, solitary lifestyle she’s necessarily adopted. This coupling of hardness and almost maternal softness make for a compelling mix.

Though the description of Not a Drop to Drink mentions the romantic elements of the novel, I must caution that the romance is definitely not the focus of the story. While I did enjoy this aspect of the plot, it was, overall, a side story. I have to say that I actually preferred it this way. Having Lynn fall head over heels and lose herself in her feelings for a boy wouldn’t have felt genuine. Lynn is not the type of girl to completely lose her head, in any situation. Instead, the romance functions as a way to show another side of Lynn – a side she herself didn’t even realize existed – and offers comfort and connection in a harsh, sharp-edged landscape.

While most of Not a Drop to Drink takes place in the empty wilderness, there is mention of more populated cities where things are much different than the world Lynn knows. A world where technology still exists and, at least for the wealthy, some luxuries. I’m curious to see what else we’ll learn in subsequent novels, as well as what will become of Lynn and her new family, as Not a Drop to Drink ended with some intense, game changing events. 

Mindy McGinnis has wowed me with her debut. Not a Drop to Drink introduces readers to an intense, unforgettable world and an incredibly strong main character sure to win readers’ hearts with her courage and compassion.

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