Author: Cameron Stracher
Date Published: January 1, 2011
Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations. Timely and eerily familiar, acclaimed author Cameron Stracher makes a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget.
Unfortunately, Water Wars was a book that I just couldn't get into. It was one of those books that I would force myself to read 20 pages, then have to put it down for something else. I stopped at page 100, 130, AND 150 and contemplated just DNF'ing it...but my irritating selective OCD reared it's ugly head and wouldn't let me put down a book that I was already half-way through. Still...it took me over TWO WEEKS just to work my way through the book, and it was a painful struggle the entire time. An irritating trend in a lot of dystopian novels has been to include an ecological standpoint on how we are killing the earth. I'm all for tree hugging, but I'm so over the "humans poisoned the earth, now we live in a lawless, godless world" mantra...So 2009 people...Environmentalism aside, the plot dragged on and was drier than the lands that are supposed to be warred over in this ho-hum attempt at a dystopian novel.
The plot starts off as Vera and Will go to school and attempt to care for their sick mother in a world without water. The United states is gone, replaced with Republics who are at war with each other and other countries over the scarcity of water. There is no out-right battles, only skirmishes between each group, not to mention the pirates, the environmentalists, and the Big Water Business which now has the power of any world-nation due to it's importance in creating water. The Canadians have apparently dammed up all of the rivers in the world and poisoned all of America's lakes. The only water has to be desalinated from the ocean, which is a dangerous, expensive process that adds chemicals that make people sick, but they need water to live so they are willing to drink it.
My first problem was that the "evil" Canadians were one of the biggest bad-guys in the story. Aside from the fact that the majority of the rivers in the US Do NOT originate in Canada...Canadians are the LEAST likely people to seize control of the world's water supply. Now I'm not saying that all canadians are nice and polite people..but if you've even set foot inside a Canadian city...you will be treated with more courtey than a HECK of a lot of places in the US. Plus...no offense to Canada...but it seems that they lack a competitive edge in anything in the world except hockey. If the world was being taken over by hockey players, I'd look to the Canadians...anything else...they are more likely to be the people who shelter all the refugees...not antagonize people by witholding their water.
Vera and Will meet a mysterious kid named Kai who doesn't go to school and stays at home helping his dad with the family business...drilling for water. Because of Kai's abilities to find water, he attracts the attention of Big Water Business and a plethora of other fringe groups who are intent on keeping control of the water monopoly. When Kai dissapears, Vera knows she has to try to save him so she and Will head out into open water country to find him before it's too late. They manage to track him to a well on the outskirts of their town, only to be captured by pirates, who in turn take them across the border to montana where they will no doubt be sold as slaves.
Here was my second problem in the book...the plot is WAY too full of holes and coincidences. Kai dissapears and Vera, on a complete whim, picks the right direction that he went. When she finds some of his belongings it kind of starts to make a some-what plot...but then the pirates come in and apparently they were looking for Kai too...why? How did anyone find out about Kai's powers? Even Vera and Will didn't know and they were his best friends. Then these big bad pirates come in and kidnap two random kids...but then we find out that they are nice pirates, which makes us sad when the Environmental fringe group kills them all when they blow up a dam holding in one of Montana's rivers. First off...if the pirates were good all along...WHY did they kidnap Vera and Will? And how are Environmentalists different than pirates when they both steal water, poison lakes, and kidnap children for the "water mines"?
Character-wise, Vera and Will were very flat. You get almost no emotion from either of them unless it's about their mother. They seem to only care about her. There is no interest in anything...school, working...NOTHING. It's like their whole lives would be spent laying in their house and staring at their sick mom if they could do it. Vera threw herself into situations with no thought whatsoever. You can't respect her for making courageous decisions, because she just seems to fall into and out of trouble with no effort on her part.