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Dry Hardcover – October 2, 2018
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The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
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About the Author
Jarrod Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling coauthor of Dry. He has a passion for storytelling across many mediums, with love and multiculturalism as an ethos. Jarrod writes and directs with his partner Sofia, under their company Dos Lobos Entertainment. Together they enjoy traveling the world and learning new languages, living between Los Angeles and Spain. They can be found on Instagram @DosLobosMedia.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
SNAPSHOT: JOHN WAYNE
Dalton loves the way planes take off from John Wayne Airport. It’s a real trip. They call it a “modified noise abatement takeoff,” and it was specifically implemented to spare Newport Beach millionaires from having to deal with airport noise. Basically, the plane powers up on the runway with its brakes on, then accelerates at full force into a ridiculously steep takeoff, followed ten seconds later by a sudden leveling off and throttling down of the engines, which sounds, to the uninitiated, like engine failure, causing at least one person on every flight to gasp, or even scream in panic. The plane then coasts out over the back bay, Balboa Island, and the Newport Peninsula before the pilot pushes the engines back to full and resumes the climb-out.
“They oughta call it John Glenn instead of John Wayne,” Dalton once said—because taking off from there was the closest most people would ever get to blasting off into space.
Dalton and his younger sister are regular flyers, visiting their dad, who lives up in Portland, a few times a year—Christmas, Easter, most of the summer, and every other Thanksgiving. Today, however, it’s not just the two of them traveling north. Their mother is coming, too.
“If your dad won’t put me up, I’ll be happy to stay in a hotel,” she says.
“He won’t make you do that,” Dalton tells her, but she doesn’t seem too sure.
A few years back, Dalton’s mom had left him for a loser with nice pecs and a soul patch, who she subsequently kicked to the curb a year later. Live and learn. Anyway, when the marriage went south, his dad went north.
“You understand this is not about your father and me getting back together,” she tells Dalton and his sister, but for kids of divorce, hope springs eternal.
Within minutes of the Tap-Out, his mom had gone online and bought three overpriced tickets on Alaska Air—one of the few airlines that flies nonstop to Portland on a plane that you didn’t have to get out and push.
“Last three tickets,” she told them triumphantly. “You’ve got an hour to pack. Carry-ons only.”
The trip to the airport is bumper-to-bumper. What should be a fifteen-minute ride takes almost an hour.
The parking situation at John Wayne is the first indication that there’s going to be turbulence up ahead. All but one parking structure says FULL. They get one of the last remaining spaces at the far end of the last lot. As they make their way to the terminal, Dalton notes all the cars circling, like it’s a huge game of musical chairs, with no chairs left.
The TSA checkpoint is a madhouse, which never happens here.
“A lot a people are going on vacation,” Dalton’s seven-year-old sister, Sarah, says.
“Yes, honey,” their mom responds absently.
“Where do you think they’re going?”
Their mom sighs, too stressed to continue humoring her, so Dalton looks at the boards, and takes up the slack. “Cabo San Lucas,” he says. “Denver, Dallas, Chicago…”
“My friend Gigi’s from Chicago.”
The security guy double takes on Dalton’s passport, because his hair is brown in the photo, but now it’s bleached blond.
“You sure this is you?”
“Last time I checked,” Dalton responds.
The humorless TSA guy lets them get into the slow-moving crawl to the metal detector, which has issues with his facial rings. Finally they make it through security with just five minutes until boarding starts. Mom is relieved.
“Okay,” she says. “We’re here. We haven’t lost anyone. No missing fingers or toes.”
“I’m thirsty,” Sarah says, but Dalton has already noticed that the concessions they passed all had NO WATER signs up.
“There’ll be something to drink on the plane,” their mother says.
Dalton thinks that might actually be true. After all, these planes all came from somewhere else. And he is getting a bit thirsty himself.
Then, just as they’re about to start boarding, the gate agent comes on the loudspeaker and makes an announcement.
“Unfortunately, we’re oversold on this flight,” she says. “We’re asking for volunteers with flexible travel plans who are willing to take a later flight.”
Sarah tugs her mother’s arm. “Mommy, volunteer!”
“Not this time, baby.”
Dalton grins. Dad always tells them to volunteer because they give away hundreds of dollars in travel vouchers, which is always worth the inconvenience. But not today. Today it’s all about getting out. Which is why they have trouble getting volunteers. The price of the vouchers goes from two hundred dollars to three hundred to five hundred dollars, and still no one is willing to surrender their ticket.
Finally the gate agent gives up. She gets on the loudspeaker, calling the names of the last people to buy tickets. Dalton, Sarah, and their mother. Dalton feels a twisting in the pit of his stomach.
“I’m sorry,” says the gate agent, not sounding sorry at all, “but as the last to purchase, I’m obliged to reschedule you to a later flight.”
Dalton’s mom goes ballistic, and he can’t blame her. This is one time they need to fight the Powers That Be.
“No,” says their mom. “I don’t care what you say! My children and I are getting on that plane!”
“You’ll each receive a five-hundred-dollar travel voucher—that’s fifteen hundred dollars,” the agent says, trying to placate them. Their mom will not be bought.
“My children have court-ordered visitation with their father,” she yells. “If you take them off this flight, you’ll be breaking the law, and I’ll sue!” Of course, this isn’t their father’s time with them, but the agent doesn’t know that.
Even so, all the agent does is apologize, and look for later flights. “There’s a flight tonight at five-thirty.… Oh wait, no, that one is full, too.… Let’s see.” She continues to hack away at her computer. “Eight-twenty… no…”
Then Dalton turns to his sister and whispers, “Give her the eyes.”
Their mom had always told both Dalton and Sarah that their big blue eyes could melt anyone into a puddle. Not so much Dalton anymore. At an awkward seventeen, a bunch of facial piercings, a biohazard neck tattoo, and what his father calls “weed-whacked hair,” the general public isn’t melted anymore. Only seventeen-year-old girls. But Sarah still has the magical melting effect on hardened adults. So he lifts her up for the agent to get a good look at her.
“Aw, you’re cute as a button,” she says. Then rips three new tickets from the printer. “Here you go—tomorrow morning at six-thirty. That’s the absolute best I can do.”
So they wait. They don’t leave, because the crowd just grows, and they know they’ll never get back through security. They spend the night sleeping in uncomfortable airport chairs, getting sips of water from anyone who’ll share with them, and there aren’t many.
Then, when morning comes, even with confirmed tickets, there’s no room on the six-thirty flight for them. Or the next one. Or the next one.
And they can’t get tickets to flights to other places.
And the airport gets so crowded that extra police are brought in to keep the peace.
And with traffic jams everywhere, trucks with jet fuel can’t get to the airport.
And Dalton, his mother, and sister have to face the fact that they won’t be blasting off anywhere.
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1st Edition (October 2, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1481481967
- ISBN-13 : 978-1481481960
- Reading age : 12 years and up
- Lexile measure : 790L
- Grade level : 7 - 9
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #38,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This book actually starts off with the acknowledgements, but this is done with good reason. This first line is dedicated to people who are fighting the effects of global warming. The water drought (also called the Tap-Out) that takes place in the book is never mentioned in the main story to be a direct result of global warming; but including it in the acknowledgements at the very beginning is a strong insinuation to how the world could potentially run out of water. This book had a "not in the too distant future" feel to it which made everything in the book feel both relevant and urgent.
This book is told from multiple perspectives in alternating chapters, with a few news articles and external points of view also inserted to give a broader picture of what is happening outside the group we are following. The external media added a much broader dimension to what we saw and makes you realize how widespread the issue actually is. The multiple perspective are told by Alyssa (the average girl who lives in a middle class neighborhood) , Garret (Alyssa's little brother), Kelton (next door neighbor to Alyssa and Garret and also has a father who has been planning for Armageddon for years), Jacqui (a homeless girl who is really rough around the edges and used to surviving on her own) and Henry (a rich boy trying to capitalized off of everyone's lack of water). I loved how the multiple view points really added to the dimensions to the story and allowed us a glimpse into every socioeconomic status and how each were handing the Tap-Out in their own way.
This story wasn't nonstop anarchy but it did convey how different people become when they are desperate to survive. People you thought you knew and people who are docile suddenly become aggressive strangers who are willing to do anything to make sure they don't die. We also find that a person's character is measured in desperate times. It was an interesting dynamic as it also assisted with character development and pushed some characters to become better people and others to do things they never thought they were capable of.
I loved this story. I was less in love with this than I was with Scythe (also by Neil Shusterman), but it was more of a content issue than a quality issue. Dry was more of an apocalyptic contemporary whereas Scythe was more of a science fiction dystopian. Both were very enjoyable and very well written and I do highly recommend Dry. Dry was an amazing and very well constructed look at what happens when a renewable resource, like water becomes scarce. This was hard hitting and felt so realistic.
Alyssa and her brother see their household start to dissolve and with it their neighborhood. Some families are trusting the government and others feel they can only trust their own families. One neighbor has been ready for years; the McCrakens have been prepping: water, food, power, weapons, a bug out (a place in the hills to escape to). Their son has a tenuous relationship with Alyssa, but when her parents go missing on an excursion for water, Kelton turns out to be a key ally in the disaster. A trip to look for them turns quickly into a run for survival.
I liked the premise of this one and felt it was realistic for most of the narrative, but there was some awkward phrasing in some places and a couple lines that just made me cringe. It may be a personal peeve, but I really dislike the naming of items like “Gatorade Cool Breeze flavor electrolyte drink.” Some readers or authors may see this as “details,” but it seemed like commercialism and branding to me. And there were some other moments we all have in reading, that feeling of “that would never happen or no one would ever say/ do that.” I know you have to suspend some disbelief in a book like this, but people are people, and you have a gut feeling about these things.
Dry has a decent YA “run and chase” plot, but stilted dialogue and some of those cringe moments take away from my overall enjoyment. It’s a very fast read (I made it through in a couple days), and a good escape.
Dry is set in Southern California in present day. And it's about what happens when we actually run out of water. And it is terrifying. And way too plausible. I definitely wanted to run out and buy a few gallons of water while I was reading it.
Alyssa goes to fill her dog's water bowl and when she turns on the tap, nothing happens. And then the news tells them that they are out of water. If we thought the 2020 Toilet Paper crisis was big, it was nothing compared to what it would be if we ran out of water.
Told over the course of only 5 days, we watch people lose their humanity and lose their lives. It's so scary. With her parents missing after going out to find water, Alyssa, her 10 year old brother Garrett, and the goofy survivalist neighbor Kelton try to find a way to survive.
Read it. And then go out and get the rest of Shusterman's books. I haven't read them all yet, but the ones I've read have all been fantastic and engaging. A lot of his books are written for kids 12 and up, but he doesn't write down to kids. I really had a hard time putting this one down.
I'm sitting there reading the pages that bring me back through childhood memories of Los Angeles, Huntington, and the surrounding forests of the area and I know that each event is real enough to be true. A realistic depiction of what disasters lay should a major city be cut off from something as vital as water. How people behave during it and what consequences lay for those trying to survive.
So intent was I to see what happened next, I hardly put the book or my glass of water down in those two days, guarding them both like my life might depend on it.
A top 5 book on my shelf.
Top reviews from other countries
What could have been a really interesting look at humanity, and how they cope in the face of abject horror and little hope. fell flat due to the awful awful characters. I hated every main character in this book (and there were a lot) and they all felt so one-note and annoying. I could not see any character development throughout this book and instead they stayed the same daft characters that we started with. They just very much seemed to be stereotypical characters who didn't leave their box. I always find it hard to enjoy a book if I don't love the characters and this is where this book fell down for me.
In terms of the plot, I will admit that some bits were interesting; the different reactions of people to the tap-out were intriguing and I felt vaguely realistic. Events can make good people do bad things and then you have to live with it. BUT this book had too many moments of the characters surviving and getting out of things that they just shouldn't have. There was never any worry about any character because you knew they were never in danger;
the fact that both parents survived and both happened to be in facilities that had water was ridiculous, and then Jacqui ending up being alive at the end like... okay we get it, no one is dead . The ending was just a bit odd and felt entirely rushed. I just really did not enjoy this one.