Review: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

Click to purchase on Amazon
Book: The Water Wars
Author: Cameron Stracher
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: January 1, 2011
Source: Ebook purchased for Kindle

Summary: (from Goodreads) 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.

First impressions: I was really anxious to read this book. I got swept up in the world right away. This is my ultimate nightmare scenario, and one that could realistically come to fruition. Stracher does a nice job setting up this dry, dusty, water-starved world. I found it believable and disturbing.

Lasting impressions: I didn’t connect to this book the way I thought I would. There was something missing for me, and though I really wanted to fall in love with this book, in the end it wasn’t what I thought it would be.

Conflicting impressions: I lacked a strong connection to the characters. It felt like Stracher was writing from a distance, and so even when the action was heart-pounding, I wasn’t invested in the outcome.

Overall impressions: When the story begins, we are introduced to a world with very strict access to water. Companies are mining the oceans and desalinizing water for consumption – at a price. The rich water miners have to travel by armored guard. The poor have to spend large portions of their income on water with a chemical aftertaste.

Access to potable water is a very important issue, and unfortunately this book seemed more focused on the issue than the story. We follow Vera and her brother Will on a wild journey from their home territory of Illinowa, through Minnesota, and into Canada, desperate to find their new friend Kai. They fear he has been kidnapped by pirates, and it is the pirates who end up stealing this story.

There are good pirates, bad pirates, scientists, miners who exploit children, greedy corporations and evil politicians. It was in the balance of all of these characters and mixed interests that the story seemed to get away from Stracher, with the focus more on the water and who has the right to it over the initial interest in whether the children will ever get home safely.

I wanted to see Vera struggle more, love more, and learn more from her adventure. She barely knows this boy, and asks her brother to accompany her on what appears to be a suicide mission in order to find him. The farther she travels, the more she discovers about this world, and that the good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys aren’t always bad. Yet she doesn’t seem to process any of this, remaining stubbornly fixated on Kai without understanding the power he holds. I felt that as the reader I learned more from her journey than she did.

Despite my disappointments, the writing is well done and the book is a quick and exciting read. I recommend it particularly to anyone with an interest in discussing environmental issues, as the book does a great job raising awareness about the fight for scarce resources.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Want a different perspective? Check out this four star review by i swim for oceans.

9 thoughts on “Review: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

  1. LOL!Logan, you are killing me here! I haven't read this one yet because I've read reviews which revealed that WW was a bit preachy about saving the planet. But your perspective is very entertaining. Vera sounds like a TSTL type of character, and I don't know if I could support her journey. She seems like she would frustrate me as much as Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth for being so oblivious!

  2. @Missie – I think Vera was just underdeveloped. The distance I felt from her seemed like it was because he just needed a character – any character – to tell the story he wanted to write, without doing the work necessary to make her integral to it. Strange, but still a good read.

  3. *sigh* Now, I'm disappointed. I don't think I really want to read this now, as I'm not all that into 'raising enviornment awareness' and all that. I'll probably give it a go, just to see it for myself. But, it doesn't sound like the book for me. :(Thanks for the exceptionally written review, Logan! 😉

  4. Another great review! I don't think this book is for me. I'm already sort of burnt out and picky about dystopians, so I wasn't really feeling it much. Now hearing about the characters I'm even less into reading it. I totally get what you mean, I think the same thing happened in Brave New World with the focus on the message and not the development of the more novel-aspects like characters. Plus, I can't help but think of Dune with their glowing eyes and giant sand worms every time I hear about the premise of this book. 😛

  5. I think I would enjoy this one despite the underdeveloped MC. I just adore the premise. Well, maybe adore isn't quite the right word… maybe more like freaked out by the premise, haha. You're right: this future is a definitely real possibility.

  6. @Asher – I hope I didn't totally turn you off. It's not that it's overly preachy, just that some of the narrative didn't seem as urgent as I wanted it to be. You should give it a try.@Smalls – I haven't read BNW or Dune. I know, I know. If you're burnt out on dystopians I would give this one some distance, but if you're looking for a quick read and come across it, it's really not too bad.@Aylee – Same here. I really was into the premise. Water rights are a big deal to me, so that got me into it.

  7. I still may want to read this book because I love the premise. Also, DUNE was incredible. The world building still resonates with me. Characters were complex and close. Great review! Thanks for your honesty.

Leave a Reply to Aylee Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s