Book Review: "The Water Wars" by Cameron Stracher

Would you risk everything for someone you just met?

What if he had a secret worth killing for?

Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...

Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall-victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.

But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret - something the government is keeping from us...

And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him - and the truth - before it is too late for all of us.


So I was in the library on Friday; not to find a book to read but to take a midterm exam for my online Physics class. A week ago I was annoyed that I needed a librarian to proctor my exam. Now I’m glad I had the opportunity to walk past the YA shelf and see this book.

I won’t reveal why I picked this book up beyond the initial reader’s reaction (Okay fine. Writing wise it was totally a “research!” reaction. Not that I have a book about water to write but… you’ll have to wait and see). The cover really grabbed my attention. Water pouring out of eyes, but not like tears… it isn’t something you see every day. Coming fresh out of a Spring-term ecology class in which my professor told me about the danger our water supply is in, and living in an area in which natural gas drilling scares those with water to lose, I just had to grab this book.

As the description states, this book is about an Earth as we don’t know it. An Earth with a water shortage to the extreme, and a girl named Vera, her brother, and a boy named Kai. Particularly in Vera’s home republic, food is synthetic and it is too wasteful to grow real vegetation to eat or feed to real meat sources like cattle. Showers are chemicals, air is filtered, and disease is rampant. Water is currency, and it is chased by government, environmentalists, and pirates alike. 

Thankfully this world has Kai, who has a secret. But soon that blessing-about-to-happen disappears, and Vera and her brother go on an adventure to save him.

The slowest points of the plot are in the first pages. The world-building takes up several chapters, but also includes a beginning of young romance that pulls the characters’ motivations together while also making you keep turning the pages. Once you are past that “hump,” hold on to your seats. Just when our characters are making it out of one scrap, they are forced into another, and the book moves as fast as a well-made Hollywood thriller. I read this book at work… and if my manager had walked in I would have been fired because I wouldn’t have even glanced up to see what she needed. 

That said, the action/plot of this book was its strength. I typically gush over characters, but I couldn’t with The Water Wars. While Vera and the others were believable, there was nothing about them that made me root for them. Really, I was rooting for the Earth. Vera was just the means to the end.  But I’d have to conclude that this book didn’t necessarily need memorable characters. The whole premise itself is powerful enough that you’ll never forget it. 

I definitely recommend The Water Wars. You’ll never take water for granted again.