Thursday, September 25, 2014

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

Holy crap, Vegas! Soylent Green is people!

If you've read Mindy McGinnis's latest you'll know what I mean (even if you don't get the seventies cultural reference there). This follow up/companion to Not a Drop to Drink was rough! Not bad rough, just hard to read at some points. But what would I expect after Not a Drop to Drink, right?

Lucy is sixteen and she, Lynn, and Stebbs are now part of a small but thriving community. Lucy even has a boyfriend of sorts in her friend's brother, Carter. But when a polio outbreak hits it seems the only traceable connection to the infected is Carter - and Lucy. Lucy's grandmother knows something about the virus but not enough to ensure that either of the teens is or isn't the cause or, if they are carriers, how long the virus will be active. 

Carter is exiled and Lynn decides it's time for her and Lucy to move on as well. They've heard rumors that desalination plants in California have made ocean water drinkable. The lure of limitless water and no more harsh winters sets the two women on a trek that could cost them their lives, but the promise of a future filled with such hope is too much to resist.

Readers, don't make the same mistake I did in reading this one concurrently with Edan Lepucki's California! I've been doing that one on audio so going back and forth between the two stories quickly became unmanageable. Fortunately for me In a Handful of Dust proved to be just as quick of a read as Not a Drop to Drink and I wrapped it up in one Saturday afternoon. 

It is a tough world to be so completely submerged in for that period of time! And I do mean submerged. There were times when I'd come out of the story almost gasping for breath. It was jarring turning the final page and easing back into real life. 

I blame this on the truly treacherous path that McGinnis places her characters on. Some of it is par for the course now in both post-apocalyptic settings and survival stories. Let's face it, two women on the road are going to likely come up against at least some of the same dangers (let's play Adam and Eve, y'all! Ick!). And yet McGinnis does add in some things I've not yet come across (what happens in Vegas...).

In a Handful of Dust is a sequel to Not A Drop to Drink - same world, same characters, further into the future than that story. But you don't have to have read that first installment to dive into this one. I would warn, however, that much of Lynn's character development is left to Not a Drop to Drink. Readers skipping out on that one likely won't feel they know her character very well based on just In a Handful of Dust.

Rating: 5/5

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