*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. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
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 School Library Journal.
When a longtime drought in California escalates to catastrophic levels, turning her once-quiet suburban street into a warzone of desperation, a teen is forced to make life and death decisions to protect her family. By the National Book Award-winning author of Challenger Deep. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
A lengthy California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, turning Alyssa's quiet suburban street into a warzone, and she is forced to make impossible choices if she and her brother are to survive. - (Baker & Taylor)
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.
The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive. - (Simon and Schuster)