Thursday, March 3, 2016

Book 14: Thirst

"She sat on the step, her skirt hugging up and exposing the tight skin at the bend of her knee. The stairs were lipped with crosshatched edgings that looked like graphite. Something about it made him sad- that brutal edge so close to Laura's knee. There was nothing in either one of their bodies as permanent as those emergency stairs"

Dates read: January 2-5, 2016

Rating: 6/10

Almost four years ago now, I moved from Michigan to Nevada. In Michigan, I lived right on the water, on an inland lake. Like, open the door and the water was no more than a stone's throw away. I've been swimming in the summer and on ice skates in the winter for as long as I can remember. Moving to Nevada was a very real change from that. Nevada is the driest state in the country in a good year, and we haven't been having good years lately. We're in the middle of a serious drought, and it's not hard to imagine a future in which there could be significant water restrictions.

But the action in Thirst is kicked off by something not so prosaic as a drought. Rather, the fresh water simply vanishes.  The grid goes down, as does the network, and emergency services are so overwhelmed that they can't respond to the crash causing the enormous traffic snarl Eddie Chapman finds himself in. He doesn't know about the water yet. Frustrated at the delay, close to home, and wanting to avoid worrying his anxious wife, Laura, he leaves his car behind and jogs back to his house. On the way there, he notices that the stream he crosses is dry, the trees around it singed and ashy. And thus Eddie, Laura, and their suburban neighbors find themselves in an awful bind: unable to communicate with anyone besides the people they're in physical proximity to, no access to news or information, and no water during the steamy summer weather. How everyone deals with the circumstances they find themselves in is really what the book is about. How do you provide for yourself? Your neighbors? Strangers? The initial panic, the dwindling supply of liquids, the delirium as the dehydration kicks in...the pretense of civilization vanishes quickly. 

This novel read, to me, of a mix of two books I've read recently: Jose Saramago's Blindness (which I loved), and Knut Hamsun's Hunger (which I hated). Like Blindness, the story follows a group of people cut off from the outside world in a place where rules and the social ties that bind are disintegrating after a catastrophic event. Like Hunger, the inability to meet basic needs of physical survival cause the characters to become delusional and therefore unreliable narrators. Thirst is better than Hunger, but not nearly as good as Blindness. The plot took a while to start moving, and I felt like it ultimately wrapped up a little too quickly. Less exposition at the beginning, more denouement at the end would have made it stronger. But it's engaging, and once I got into the thick of it I was intrigued and wanted to know what happened next. It's pretty quick to get through, and I enjoyed it. I'd recommend it to a friend interested in post-apocalyptic style literature, but don't think I'll end up re-reading it myself.

Tell me, blog friends...what do you think is the worst doomsday scenario? Running out of water sounds like a pretty awful one to me.

**I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review**

Note: Review cross-posted at Cannonball Read

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