The Water Wars
By Cameron Stracher
The Short of It:
The Water Wars is a fast-paced novel geared towards young adults. Its premise is promising… the nation is experiencing a water shortage and it’s left the landscape bone dry. However, as interesting as the story is, the characters take a backseat to the action.
The Rest of It:
Vera and her family struggle to survive on water rations that are modified by desalinization. The removal of salt and minerals is the only way to make salt water palatable and it’s left them weak, and in the case of Vera’s mother, ill. One day, Vera meets a boy by the name of Kai. Kai is special in that he lives with the privileged and seems to have access to an unlimited supply of fresh drinking water. His ability to locate fresh water is soon found out and he is kidnapped. Vera and her brother Will trek across the barren landscape in search of Kai and encounter obstacles such as water pirates, government intervention and flash floods from compromised dams.
The premise behind the book is quite frightening to consider. Stracher does an excellent job setting up the landscape. I could easily visualize the overall dustiness of a land without water. However, the characters, with the exception of Vera, seemed a little flat to me. Vera reminded me a lot of Katniss from The Hunger Games. She is determined and plucky and believable. However, Kai…who is such an important piece of the puzzle seems vacant in some way. Granted, he’s missing for a good chunk of the novel, but when he’s present, he’s not really PRESENT. His personality doesn’t really come through and this made it hard for me to buy the little romance between the two.
As far as action, there’s plenty of it but it didn’t allow a reader to linger with these characters for too long. They were off and running throughout the entire novel. From a tween’s perspective though, I imagine this would be right up their alley. Tweens don’t want to spend ages getting to the main story. They want you to get to the point quickly, and I do feel that Stracher succeeded in doing that. Also, the narrative structure played out like a movie which I think younger readers tend to like when reading a book.
In summary, younger readers (tweens and teens) will enjoy it whereas older readers might find it lacking.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher.