Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (buddy read with Stuart from Always Trust In Books)

Published January 16, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

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.

And now for something a bit different…

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special review on my blog. A little while ago, I participated in my first ever buddy read with Stuart who blogs over at Always Trust in Books (and is an awesome blogger so you should all go follow him if you don’t already!). So far we’ve read the first two books in the brilliant Arc Of A Scythe series by Neal ShustermanScythe and Thunderhead and we’ve read a little non-fiction too – Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt and our latest read in December was The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.

Stuart and I ummed and aaahed for a little bit about how we wanted to review our books – individually or more of a collaboration and he had the brilliant idea of capturing our Twitter chat and then including it as part of our review. So please find here before our thoughts and feelings about Dry at the moment of reading it. If you’re worried about spoilers, never fear! Stuart and I deliberately kept the juicier parts of the narrative very vague so if you haven’t read this yet, no big secrets are given away.

What did WE think?:

Stuart: All set for tomorrow if you are 😃

Beth: Sure am! How would you like to divide it up? 😁🤗

Stuart: Bit random but if we go 102, 193, 309 and finish that should work out.

Beth: Great! See you soon! 🤗

———————-

Stuart: It’s so intense already 😂 I’m only on page 22!

Beth: Haha I know I’m on the edge of my seat! p50 here. 😆

Stuart: There are going to awkward and cruel situations in this book isn’t there… 😟

Stuart: I’m ready 😁 What a place to stop!

Beth: On a late shift today but should be at the checkpoint later on this evening? That scene in the supermarket?! 😱

Stuart: Just the beginnings ☹

Beth: Wow you’re right that was such an intense place to stop, especially that last line!! Want to talk about it tomorrow as it’s quite late now?

Stuart: We are off to a good start already I think. Some solid characters, Alyssa is smart and confident, Kelton is a bit weird but hopefully he will transform over the story. I really like the little snapshot pieces, classic Shusterman Snr. How are you finding thw story?

Beth: I’m enjoying it so far! Finding it slightly more difficult to get to grips with all the different characters in the snapshots but do really love how this is done – I think it just brings an extra edge to proceedings when we pan out and focus on other people that aren’t our immediate protagonists. I’m enjoying Alyssa more as a character but Kelton is certainly intriguing, especially how him and his family have prepared!! 🤔

Stuart: Yeah I think Kelton could go either way right now. That imagery at that very last

moment was amazing, it was a serious turn of events. Yeah the snapshots definitely build up the tension and paint a more vivid picture of the situation. How are you feeling about the plausibility of the whole situation?

Beth: I think the scariest part of it is that it could potentially happen, especially with the threat of climate change the way it is at the moment! I thought the dedication at the beginning was interesting- “to all those struggling to undo the disastrous effects of climate change.” 😐

Stuart: I keep going over it in my my head wondering if it coukd actually get that bad but it really could. People, myself included, are complacent about such matters, thinking there is an endless supply of water out there. I am interested to see what the ‘impossible decisions’ are that the characters are going to have to make. Please don’t let the dog die 😔

Beth: I know! The Shusterman’s will have a lot to answer to if they let that happen! 😓🐶 I think with what we’ve seen so far it’s only going to get darker and more desperate as people go to extraordinary lengths to get something to drink, right?

Stuart: Have you read Nod by Adrian Barnes yet?

Beth: Not yet but should I? I’ve just read the synopsis on Goodreads and I think I need to read it ASAP!

Stuart: Definitely. If this turns out to be similar to that then we are in for a rough time. I will never forget Nod, I highly recommend it to everyone. I am intrigued by how much each Shusterman contributed to the overall writing. What do you think?

Beth: It’s really hard to tell isn’t it? I’d love to know their writing process. It can’t be that Shusterman Jnr provided the YA aspect as we know Neal can already do that as he’s proved with Scythe and Thunderhead! 🤔

Stuart: Well I’m sure we will be able differentiate between the two in the later acts. I like the gravity of this book. It is meaningful and relevant which makes it all the more worth reading. Any thoughts on the parents?

Beth: I feel like we’ll have a lot more to come from them? Particularly Kelton’s – I think there might be hidden depths there that we may find out. I could be reading far too much into it though! 😆

Stuart: That means they aren’t predictable at least. Classic Shusterman. Shall we continue?

Beth: What a good idea. See you at p193! 😁

——————————-

Stuart: The beach and the phones, that caught me off guard. Amazing!

Stuart: Well that got very dark very quickly 😬

Stuart: I’m ready when you are!

Beth: I’m ready! Thanks for the info, that was a great article. I’d love to know more about their writing process. 🤔 I can’t believe how much things have developed since we last spoke. 😱 Everything is completely falling apart isn’t it? What do you think of the addition of Jacqui?

Stuart: Jacqui was an interesting development and she is definitely going to be a spanner in the works. Always putting herself first. What about the situation with the front door! That was just cruel! Turning their defence into complete tragedy.

Beth: I know! That was a twist I certainly didn’t see coming. I do love how they mention “water zombies,” did you? 😆 Do you think it’s a realistic depiction of the way people act when they get desperate?

Stuart: I didn’t initially like the reference but your right it does describe those people very well! I could imagine those not so civilised meetings like the one Alyssa dropped the water off at. The imagery at the beach stopped me in my tracks. The ringing of the phones, that poor boy, any predictions on the parents yet?

Beth: I know that was so sad…and the way the phone was buried 😣 The question of the parents is interesting. For some reason I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them but for where they are now? Difficult to say. I feel that there’s something maybe a bit more malevolent at work here as they’re not the kind of characters to just disappear. How are you finding the character development so far?

Stuart: Kelton is by far the most developed. He has changed non-stop throughout the story so far and I am intrigued where the Shustermans might be going with that. I don’t think Alyssa and Garrett have developed as much as I would expect but with the wildcard of Jacqui in the mix, challenging everyone, anything could happen. I can’t decide if she is as badass as she thinks she is or if it is all show?

Beth: I’m hoping we get to learn a lot more about her as the story continues, from what we’ve heard already she’s had quite an interesting past and I think the badass part is a total front to hide the more vulnerable side of herself and just to survive?

Stuart: She has been surviving long before the tap-out. She has intelligence, lets just hope she has a heart too. The gang are off to a new setting, should we continue on?

Beth: For sure. See you soon 😁

————————————–

Stuart: Ready again. Had plenty of time to read today!

Beth: I’m ready too! Well – one thing I should always expect from Shusterman (at least, the older Shusterman) is the unexpected. He always manages to surprise me. Now we have ANOTHER loose cannon in the mix! What do you make of the very intriguing Henry? 🤔

Stuart: I like him. He is even more mysterious than Jacqui. Shusterman is great at keeping fluid narrative whilst attaching completely new characters which is something I loved about Scythe. Henry stirring the pot like that at the end, he is trouble! I was glad to see Herb again in that Snapshot 😅. Can we trust this new group?

Beth: I know!! I knew he was going to do that as soon as he got that information 😳 he is DEFINITELY looking out for himself and using the info he picks up to his advantage but I do think he has hidden depths and a big heart too. But Jacqui is becoming a lot more interesting isn’t she? How about the things that were left at Daphne’s bedside?

Stuart: I know, she has a bit of a Robin Hood ethos I think. That scene at the evac centre. I like how Henry sees it as a threat and Kelton acts like it is completely normal. Chilling in reality. I feel like a fight is brewing within the group, do you?

Beth: For sure, there are a lot of tensions and there’s three characters that are kind of trying to take the reins of leadership for themselves. So many things simmering below the surface, I have a feeling things are going to kick off royally!!

Stuart: Any issues with the book so far?

Beth: Not so far…I’m enjoying it but preferred the Scythe series. That however is my only complaint. How about you?

Stuart: I’m the same 😂 I’m glad you said that. My issue is expectation. I have gotten used to soaring epicness that is the Arc Of The Scythe series that Dry just doesn’t meet that momentum. It is a great read but the moments here don’t have that same punch. In my opinion… 😂

Beth: Tell me about it dude 😅😴 there are moments of brilliance but it hasn’t had the same impact like you said when compared to the Scythe series. Shall we see how it finishes? I’m struggling to see how everything can be wrapped up in 100 pages!! 😆

Stuart: Let’s do it!

——————————————-

Stuart: I’m ready when you are! That heated up very quickly! Excuse the pun…

Beth: Haha it sure did! 😅 wow that ending was action on top of action wasn’t it?!

Stuart: That was an ingenious moment right at the last second I have to say. Really summed up the novel really well. Poor Jacqui though. Well Dry was a pretty decent read for me, how about you?

Beth: Yes and even though it was kind of wrapped up with a little bow at the end I was quite pleased about the ending – it certainly could have ended a lot differently! Don’t you think the reappearance and explanation of the parents was just a bit too sudden though? If I had to sum it up I’d say Dry was a really engaging, thrilling read with some fantastic characterisation and a thought provoking message about climate change. What would you say?

Stuart: I tried not to dwell on the explanation of the parents too much as it brought up to many questions like why a municipal building like a police station had running water yet didn’t seem to utilise it, that brings up too many ifs and buts. Dry for me was an interesting localised disaster novel with some intriguing characters and eye-opening themes. To think that this could be one of the many issues we face in the near future, it definitely packed a punch.

Stuart: It was easy to believe that other states would just look on in indifference to others needs until it was too late and the damage was done. We have become rather complacent in these sorts of matters, I just hope we are actually more prepared than they were in the novel!

Beth: I know it was quite frightening wasn’t it? I’m a bit pessimistic in that way, look at how the country reacts to a little bit of snow, we’re not prepared at all! 😆 Henry became quite an interesting character in the end didn’t he?

Stuart: That moment was hilarious, typical wannabe hero 😂. You’re probably right about our preparation… Each character went through an evolution of sorts which was good. I thought Garrett’s arc was the most surprising, unsettling and moving too. Who surprised you?

Beth: I think they all went on a kind of journey especially as you say Garrett but I think for me Kelton had the most surprising moments as Jacqui and Henry were always kind of loose cannons. I would have liked to learn more about Jacqui though – her character really intrigued me!

Stuart: I’m glad she had a little mention at the end. What did you think of the writing overall? Well balanced?

Beth: I did! It doesn’t seem like it was written by two different people, it reads smoothly and isn’t disjointed in any way. What did you think?

Stuart: Yeah I agree. Solid writing, I liked how everything connected well. It was satisfying to see the snapshots get intergrated into the narrative such as the water angel. Snr and Jnr make a good team. Stand out moment?

Beth: Yes I really enjoyed the snapshots too. Hmm. Stand out moment for me would be when they reached the bug out. That’s when I really started to believe the hopelessness of the situation – how about you?

Stuart: The beach scene really stuck with me. Also the point after everything after the brothers in the forest was really intense and I was really on edge! Will you be recommending the novel to everyone?

Stuart: My phone is being weird. That was meant to say ‘the point after everything with the brothers in the forest’.

Beth: I will! Maybe we should tweet Trump? 😆 I’d certainly like to see them team up on something else. It was such a smooth, seamless piece of writing.

Stuart: They are currently working together on making Dry into a movie. Maybe thats why The Toll is taking so long… 😒

Beth: Ugh. But we need it NOW. 😬

Here endeth the Twitter chat.

Final thoughts

Buddy reading the first two books in the Arc Of A Scythe series with Stuart gave us a real hunger to read something else as we (not so patiently!) wait for the last book to be released and when we heard that Neal Shusterman was teaming up with his son to write something with a dystopian/apocalyptic edge, we were quite determined to check it out. I think the most frightening thing about this novel is that it isn’t really far-fetched or fantastical in the slightest. Unlike the Scythe series, which would be an extreme kind of future, Dry suggests an event i.e. the rationing/disappearance of water due to severe drought that could actually happen, particularly with all the worries that our world now faces regarding climate change.

Neal and Jarrod Shusterman, father and son duo and authors of Dry.

This is why I love reading so much. Sometimes it’s pure escapism into an environment authors create that is so other-worldly you can lose yourself easily, enjoy the make-believe and forget your own issues for a little while. Then there’s the stories that are developed that are so realistic that you almost feel the cold, hard smack of reality. Dry was one of those latter novels that made me uncomfortable in the fact that I could completely believe everything that happened. It’s also thought-provoking in the way that it makes you consider how you might behave if given the same dire circumstances. We all like to think we’d be noble and kind and help our fellow neighbour but luckily, many of us have not been in that situation where we’ve been so desperate that we would do anything just to survive.

As I’ve already referred to in the transcript of our chat and if I had to compare Dry to the Scythe series, I have to be honest and shout from the rooftops about Scythe. There is just something so innately special and fascinating about that world and its characters that has really got under my skin and excited me in a way that I haven’t felt about a young adult series in quite some time. If I hadn’t read Scythe though, I’d still be recommending this book as a great read. I loved the variety of characters it encompasses, the interludes between chapters where we get to see the state of the rest of the world and how action-packed it becomes, particularly at that nail-biting, tense finale.

Personally, I would have loved to see some of the characters developed a bit further. For example, I thought there were many more hidden depths to both Alyssa and Garrett that could have been explored further, yet perhaps that’s the sacrifice you make when you have a stand-alone novel, an agreed page limit and such a large cast of characters? I did think Kelton, Jacqui and Henry were fantastic additions to the narrative and their tendencies to be “loose cannons,” really kept the plot intriguing and compelling. It’s obvious that both Neal and Jarrod work terrifically as a writing duo and I’d be fascinated to see if they team up again and write something else – I’d certainly be interested to read it.

Thank you to Stuart from Always Trust In Books for another amazing buddy read – check out his review on his blog at some point today!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

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2 comments on “Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (buddy read with Stuart from Always Trust In Books)

  • I love so many things about this, Beth! Reading yours and Stuart’s thoughts. Your review. That a father and son wrote this together. I still haven’t read Scythe, so I think I may try to read this first. Maybe my expectations will be a little lower? It sounds like a terrific read! Wonderful review! ♥️

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