Sunday, March 20, 2011

When All the Water is Gone...

The Water Wars
With such a haunting and beautiful cover, this post-apocalyptic story by Cameron Stracher had a lot to live up to. How do you take a scary scenario and breathe some life into a hopeless world? The Water Wars does it with strong characters who keep you rooting for them through every obstacle and struggle.

Vera and Will live in a world where the water is gone, and with it, life as we know it has gone as well. People survive on genetically modified foods, are given water rations that barely keep them alive, and dream of the days with grass, animals, and rain. When Vera sees the new boy, who rides in a limo and has a bodyguard, pour a cup of water out onto the road, she knows there is something different about Kai. No one wastes water anymore, not when there isn't enough to keep the world alive.

Kai tells Vera and Will about a hidden river, and they can't stop thinking about it. One day, Kai takes Vera to an old abandoned mill where he shows her the water in a hidden aquifer below the surface. Later, when she and Will go to find Kai, they discover his body guard shot and his apartment trashed. Kai is nowhere to be found. Worried about their friend, they take off after him, using his father's notebook they found in the apartment. From the minute they leave their small, dehydrated town, they find themselves on a whirlwind journey that they just barely survive.

Kidnapped by pirates, they are taken out of Illinowa and to Minnestoa. There, environmental terrorists blow a dam that almost kills Vera and Will. Now they find themselves in the hands of the most brutal and greedy group- the environmentalists who destroy the earth just as quickly as the others, if they can make a profit doing so. Just when they think all hope is lost, Ulysses, the pirate leader, comes to their rescue. They continue on their journey to find Kai, but in the meantime, they realize all they knew about their government, the water, and the world is wrong. Now they must rely on the help of outlaws and pirates to get to Kai in time. Can they do it?

This was a really interesting post-apocalyptic tale. Since it was a shorter novel, it would be a good start for a student who is interested in this kind of topic but hasn't read much yet. The writing is fairly simple, and the horror of the story isn't in the language or the gruesomeness, but rather in the sheer possibility of something like this being possible. It would be a good story for any age group, from late elementary students through high school. It is particularly good for older students with lower reading abilities who want a mature subject. The action is non-stop and will keep the attention of any reader.

The beauty of this story is that even when the worst thing possible happens, there is still a way to survive it all and come out on top. Even when Vera or Will were ready to give up, the other one kept them both going, refusing to give up on their friend Kai. Nothing was going to stop these two kids. I also liked the idea that things are not always as they seem. With the pirates and the other outlaws, the ones who you would assume are good people turn out to be horrible and greedy, and the pirates turn out to be pretty good people- Ulysses even risks his life to save the kids. This story will defy all your assumptions and keep you reading until the very end. There is never a dull moment in a world where there isn't enough water.

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