In Dry, Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead) collaborates with son Jarrod to create a situation in which the true face of humanity is revealed.
After Arizona and Nevada back out of the reservoir relief deal, California is cut off from the Colorado River. The "flow crisis" grows to catastrophic levels--California reaches the Tap-Out stage and all the taps run dry. For 16-year-old Alyssa and her 10-year-old brother, Garrett, that means desperately trying to find new sources of water, like scraping ice from their freezer's walls. When Alyssa and Garrett's parents don't return from a desalination center, the siblings and their doomsday-prepping neighbor, Kelton, embark on a harrowing search that reveals that human nature may be more dangerous than mother nature.
The Shustermans paint a dire picture of a society creeping closer to "urban Darwinism," driving home that, yes, Dry is fiction, but it's also a cautionary tale and vision of "a post-apocalyptic reality that... could arrive quicker than the expiration date on milk." They splash aphorisms in readers' faces like "fill volumes" and "when it rains it pours," reminding readers that water is everywhere--until it isn't.
The authors break up the teens' alternating narratives with "Snapshots," interludes that narrow in on ancillary characters. These looks into other peoples' lives, like the first responder who realizes that "nine in ten people won't get water today," provide a bird's-eye view of the crisis and effectively depict the strain felt by all, including those behind the scenes.
Dry's "suburban apocalypse" horror story is all the more terrifying for its roots in reality and sure to have readers stockpiling bottled water. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader