Not a Drop to Drink: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

By Megan Bosarge

When Technology can’t save you money has no value. What’s left? Instincts. Darwin. Survival of the fittest. What role does humanity play in that? Father-son duo Neal and Jarrod Shusterman attempt to answer that question in their recent novel, DRY.

DRY breaks the young adult mold as it borders between dystopia and disaster, posing one question after another, and leaving us reaching eagerly for the nearest glass of water. It all starts when southern California’s water supply is cut off. It takes a mere 3 days for the total disintegration of society to ensue. Alyssa, a high school senior and her kid brother, Garrett, and oddball and (conveniently) doomsday prepper neighbor, Kelton, set off to find water after their parents leave to find water and never return. Alyssa soon realizes they now inhabit a world they never imagined outside of horror films with “water zombies” scouring the streets, willing to do just about anything for a drop of water.

When Alyssa, Garrett, Kelton and a ruthless girl named Jacqui, who makes up for in intelligence what she lacks in empathy, find themselves getting dry, their humanity is called into question. They’re willing to steal, to break laws, to turn a blind eye to others in need…but are they prepared to kill?

The novel confronts some of the most frightening aspects of humanity, dancing on the grave of a government that refuses to acknowledge climate change, and makes you wonder how long it will be before we turn on the faucets to find them tapped out.

Dry also causes us to look within ourselves and pose the questions, How far would you go? What would you do to survive? I asked myself these same questions as I poured over the pages. Ten years ago, I suppose empathy, mercy and humanity would’ve won. But as a wife and mother of two, I found myself pushing the questions as far out of mind as possible, shuddering to think of what the answer would be, because I don’t think I’m ready to admit what I’d be capable of under such circumstances. But just like William Golding posits in Lord of the Flies, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman show that when you get up close and personal with the duality of human nature, it’s hard to ignore the monster within.

Dry brims with wit, page-turning intensity, and a multiple first person narrative that will leave you thirsty for more.

Categories: Book Reviews

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