Book Review: In a Handful of Dust
By: Mindy McGinnis
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Dystopian
I loved the first book in this duology, but I wasn't sure how I felt about this on going into it. It's a sequel, but not one that picks up right after the first novel ends. Lynn is now twenty-six and Lucy is a teenager. It took me some time to adjust to these characters in their older and wiser states. Once I settled in, I found that I loved that this was Lucy's story. Lynn had the chance to tell her story in the previous novel and it was interesting to see another character's desires driving the plot. It's also nice to see a book driven by female characters that doesn't revolve around romance. There is a smattering of romance, but this is not a happily ever sort of setting so those feelings take a backseat to survival.
The novel is split into three sections. The first portion takes place in the same setting as Not a Drop to Drink. Lynn lives in the same house and has the same concerns she did when I first met her. She loves her home and her pond; she will protect those she loves and her water with every ounce of her being. Lucy is no longer the sweet kid, but rather she is on the brink of womanhood. Her life with Lynn has taught her how to live in a world were water is a prize. Her grandmother and Stebbs have taught her compassion. Lucy's future is shaping up to a bright one when tragedy strikes. Polio is ripping through the area and killing off neighbors. People fear that Lucy could be the carrier that is spreading the disease. Lucy is forced to leave. With Lynn by her side, Lucky embarks on a journey that will lead her from Ohio to California.
The second section of the novel was when the action started to pick up for me. I loved the moments when Lucy and Lynn were making their way across the country. I could feel the danger and trepidation with every sentence. The conflict in this section was well written and engaging. I am not sure that I could have been as brave as Lynn and Lucy - especially in the face of some of the dangers that cross their path. I also loved Fletcher's appearance in this section.
The last section was a bit slow for me and I had to force myself to plod along through the lull. This was well worth it because there were some twists and turns in this one that made my blood run cold. Hiding behind the seemingly monotonous moments lurks a sinister evil.
All in all, this was a thought provoking, entertaining read. Like the first novel, I found myself freaked out from time to time because this is a Dystopian that feels plausible. Water is such a critical resource that I can't even begin to imagine how I would handle living in the time after the shortage.
One Last Gripe: I know Dystopians are often not happy, but there were moments in this one that made my heart heavy. I had to take breaks to allow myself to work through all the emotions I felt while reading this one.
Favorite Thing About This Book: McGinnis kept me guessing with the plot.
First Sentence: Maddy died hard.
Favorite Character: Lynn
Least Favorite Character: Joss
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.
Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.
When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.
In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.