Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman is a page-turning, post-apocalyptic adventure set in modern day Southern California. As the water crisis in California has reached the drastic point of shutting off all access to water, we primarily follow Alyssa, her bother Garrett, and their next door neighbor Kelton as they try to navigate their once blissful suburban neighborhood and surrounding beach community, which has turned into a desert wasteland after the tap out.
Neal and Jarrod use multiple writing perspectives in this first-person narrative which add to the elements of a study in human nature. While Alyssa is the first and primary of these perspectives, we get strong influence from Kelton’s point of view, along with Garret from time to time, as well as a couple other characters they meet along the way. We also get a handful of snap shots which give us a peek into other areas of the larger story happening around them.
Dry Explores the “Three Days to Animal” Theory
Inspired by the concept “three days to animal,” the Shusterman duo explores the thin veil of society and civilization when they dive into “what if” the taps suddenly went dry. Set in what appears to be near-present day Los Angeles, and amidst the very real water shortage, it makes for a very compelling story. After the surrounding states and regions break off a deal to help supply Southern California with water, the local government must take drastic measures, and eventually, so do the inhabitants of Southern California.
Speaking as a native of California, the authors show a great deal of attention to detail when describing the landscape and surrounding cities to paint a very realistic feel of the area. The peril behind this crisis is also aided by the actual pandemic we have been navigating since early 2020. Walking through stores cleaned out of necessities became an all too familiar scene for many this past year.
Dry: Final Thoughts
Neal has been one of my favorite authors for years now and along with his son Jarrod, they have created a must read in Dry. Without going into much spoiler territory, this book and the four main narrative perspectives will hold up as a mirror for the reader to self-assess their preparedness for the collapse of civilization as we know it, both physically and ethically. Along with the discussion questions provided at the back of the book, this is a perfect novel for parents to read and discuss with their children 13 and older.
I give this a 6 out of 7 stars
Dry has also been sold to Paramount productions to become a major motion picture. So if you want to be that guy that says “the book was better,” read it now! You can snag a copy from Amazon here.