Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead) and son Jarrod's near-future or alternate-present America, a prolonged drought ("the Tap-Out") results in the sudden curtailment of Southern California's water supply. When their parents vanish while seeking desalinated water, 16-year-old Alyssa and 10-year-old Garrett embark on a harrowing journey, searching for their parents and fending for themselves as society deteriorates. Along the way, the siblings pick up three teens: their survivalist neighbor Kelton, unpredictable lone wolf Jacqui, and calculating opportunist Henry. This thriller alternates between the teens' distinct and plausible viewpoints, occasionally supplementing with brief "snapshots" of others (a fleeing family, a news anchor) dealing with the escalating catastrophe. The dynamic core-character relationships are satisfying, and the intersection of their narrative with the snapshots adds depth to briefly glimpsed characters and illuminates the full scale of the disaster. The lack of warning before the long-looming crisis breaks may require some initial suspension of disbelief, but the palpable desperation that pervades the plot as it thunders toward the ending feels true, giving it a chilling air of inevitability. It is also thoroughly effective as a study of how extreme circumstances can bring out people's capacity for both panic and predation, ingenuity and altruism. Ages 12-up. Agent: Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary. (Oct.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-The Tap-Out, the government's friendlier name for the drought, has been in effect for a while. The inability to water one's lawn or take a long shower was a nuisance until the water stopped permanently. With the fear of no water, people fight over bottles at Costco, they mug one another on the streets, and arm themselves for fear of break-ins. As her town becomes a war zone, Alyssa's parents set out to retrieve emergency water from the government-but when they don't return, Alyssa, her 10-year-old brother Garret, and their neighbor Kelton go to locate them, only to find dead bodies on the beach and no sign of her parents. They start heading to Kelton's family emergency bunker, slowly realizing their corner of California is becoming obsolete. Although this novel has an apocalyptic tone, the subject matter is timely and realistically possible. The Shustermans challenge readers to ponder what they would do in a similar crisis. While Alyssa remains positive and fights for survival, Kelton's doomsday prep mode kicks in, and he often tries solving problems with weapons. This survival tale is packed with themes and allegories that will attract fans of literary YA as well as readers seeking a good adventure. VERDICT A perfect choice for all collections.-Dawn Abron, Zion-Benton Public Library, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Alyssa and her brother, Garrett, are normal kids in a suburb in Southern California that is, until surrounding states shut the floodgates to the Colorado River due to prolonged drought. At first, people dismiss the news, but circumstances turn dire quickly when bottled water disappears off store shelves while the spigots remain dry. What ensues is a horrifyingly fast descent into barbarity as neighbor turns on neighbor, government intervention falls short, and society's civil facade disintegrates. Alyssa and Garrett must travel to find new sources of water, all the while defending themselves against people crazed by thirst. While this book leans on siege-like tropes established in zombie movies, the Shustermans revivify the genre by adding an environmental twist. Using multiple points of view, the authors fully flesh out Alyssa, Garrett, and their travel companions to showcase the various ways people mentally approach calamities. The authors do not hold back there is death, disease, manipulation, and chaos. None of it is presented simply, and none of it is sugarcoated. Lovers of horror action fiction will feel right at home with this terrifyingly realistic story of our tenuous relationship with the environment and of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of desperate situations. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the elder Shusterman on a roll with Challenger Deep (2015) and Scythe (2016), this collaboration will be supported by a tour, festival promotion, and more.--Reinhardt Suarez Copyright 2018 Booklist
Horn Book Review
A major drought in Southern California has been going on long enough for people to adjust, with everyone conserving as much water as possible. But one day Alyssa turns on the faucet in her suburban home, and nothing comes out. Suddenly, with this new stage of the drought (which the media calls the Tap-Out), everyone is scrambling, and Alyssas neighborhood becomes more dangerous. Alyssas neighbor Kelton McCracken, a weirdo teen who lives with his family of doomsday preppers, has always wanted to have a reason to interact with Alyssa, but the Tap-Out creates a scenario he could never have imagined. As people become increasingly desperate for water and institutions begin to break down, the thread between selfishness and survival begins unraveling as ethical dilemmas present themselves around sharing water, selling water, and deciding who is worthy of saving. Alyssa, her brother Garrett, and Kelton wind up on a road trip to survive, picking up strangers along the way who may or may not be allies. Throughout this compulsively readable and unnerving tale, the authors present a dystopia that is all-too-close to our current world, leading readers to realize just how tenuous our societal norms are and raising important questions about how we will handle the crises we have created. christina l. dobbs (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration.When the Tap-Out hits and the state's entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it's his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by "snapshots" of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative's intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers' fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters' identities open.Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.