Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dust, Decay, and Devotion

In the world after an apocalypse, life will revert back centuries. A day will revolve around the sun, work will be for survival, and modern medicine, like vaccines, will be a forgotten luxury. In Mindy McGinnis's sequel to Not a Drop to Drink, she takes the apocalypse one step further in the fight for survival. In a Handful of Dust doesn't stop at simple survival, like finding food and water. It takes these characters through something far scarier. 

Lynn used to shoot anyone who dared to walk near her pond, the only healthy water source nearby, and a guarantee for survival, at least in a world where water is difficult to come by. Now she has a whole civilization around her pond and even adopted Lucy, a girl whose family was lost to the apocalypse in the worst kinds of ways. They have a fairly decent life, given the circumstances, until people start to get sick. When a polio outbreak threatens the community, and Lucy is targeted as a possible carrier, Lynn has no choice but to go with the young girl when the community insists she leave to protect them from the illness. 

With no real knowledge of the world outside her property, but still a stubborn determination to survive, Lynn decides to head to California to see if there is a place unspoiled by the water shortage. As they pick their way across the country, they encounter all manner of people. Some mean well but are clearly suffering and struggling to survive. Others are capitalizing on the circumstances and thriving in the wake of such devastation. Regardless of the obstacle in their path, Lynn refuses to give up. She and Lucy will get to California, even if it kills them. And it just might.

I really loved the first book in this series, and this second book was just as great of a read with the exception of one huge, glaring flaw- its entire premise. Lynn isn't just a stubborn survivor. She is a smart, logical woman who understands how to survive and how to weigh the pros and cons of every decision. We saw her be ruthless when she needed to, and we saw her compromise when it was the best decision. But one thing was for sure. Lynn did not take kindly to the unknown and her home was her home. So why on earth would it be so easy to displace her from her own darned property?! I understand McGinnis wanted the story to be about the journey, but the part where Lucy and Lynn are pushed out is so rushed, it doesn't do justice to Lynn's character. There is no way Lynn would leave her own property and her pond without any kind of a fight, but that was exactly what she did. It felt too much like a quick plot device than an actual development in the character, especially when you see how she is on the road- same old Lynn. Logical, sometimes ruthless survivor. 

That annoying flaw in the story aside, this was a very interesting book. The characters they met on the road were realistic and interesting. They were varied and different, and some were downright terrifying. I also loved the differences between Lucy and Lynn. When Lynn can be cold and pragmatic at times, Lucy is kind and trusting. The dichotomy between the two was the perfect duo to cross the country in such dire times, giving the reader two different perspectives on the world. It was a good sequel, albeit not a perfect sequel, and it would still leave me interested in whatever McGinnis chooses to write about next!

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