Review: Not A Drop to Drink (McGinnis)

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis is a stand-alone post-apocalyptic novel that kept me up late to finish it! Pacing is quick, and though I have some questions about the plausibility of the world, I enjoyed Not a Drop to Drink and will recommend it to my students.

Not a Drop to Drink

AUTHORMindy McGinnis

PUBLICATION DATESeptember 24, 2013


GENRE: survival, dystopia, thriller

SETTING: small home near a small pond in near-future USA

THEMES: water crisis, water shortage, gangs, survival, mothers and daughters, cholera, water-borne illnesses

PROTAGONIST: female, age 16, and her mother

PAGES: 320

See it on Amazon


Sixteen-year old Lynn and her mother have known nothing but survival. In a world where clean water is precious, Lynn and her mother use any means necessary to guard their small pond. Every day is a struggle to survive, and Lynn will defend what’s hers until her dying breath.


The characters. Lynn is awesome. She’s tough and unpolished and knows almost nothing of the world outside the home she grew up in. In her whole life, she’s only met one other person–a gruff older neighbor who keeps his distance but seems to be watching out for Lynn and her mother. I love how she slowly learns to trust – and even love – other people. She learns that she is stronger with others than she is by herself.

Other characters such as Stebbs (the gruff neighbor), Lauren (Lynn’s mother), Neva, Eli–are equally well-drawn. They all have their own baggage and weaknesses and are perfectly flawed, something that I always LOVE in my characters.

The story reads quickly, and I had a difficult time putting it down. I especially love the slow-building sweetness of the romance between Lynn and Eli. Lynn is very careful with her heart, something Eli understands and respects even as he works to melt her heart little by little.

A war over water is very interesting, and I love how McGinnis claims that most wars are really over water, not religion, and that propaganda to keep the people uninformed was rampant in the media. That part of the premise makes absolute sense even though the reason for the water shortage in the story is unclear–see below for details on that.

The ending is realistic. Yes, it was unexpected and broke my heart, but I love it when authors aren’t afraid to be real. The world these characters live in is dangerous and wild. Out in the country, there is no law. There are no rules. I love that there is no sequel planned, even though there are no fairytale endings for our characters. They may win the battle, but the war is far from over.


Rape is mentioned frequently. The details are scant, but readers will know what is going on. While I am certain that rape would occur in this lawless society, I don’t like the use of rape as currency in this story. Women, particularly pretty ones, are bartered like cattle. Need some milk to feed your starving baby? Just give us 30 minutes of your time… It’s just gross.

How many times did the bad men in the story have sex in one day? It seems like a few of them raped several women each day. They held and hijacked lots of women, but very few outside men came by their little settlement for some “entertainment” from their captives. Most of the people who stopped by the makeshift town were starving, sick, and desperate. I would think they should be too hungry/cold/tired to even think about sex.

For a book marketed as YA, I think in this case, rape is overused as a plot device.

I was kind of bothered that we never got much history of why the world became this way. It rains and snows several times in the story. Lynn’s pond isn’t the only water source around; there is also a stream and a river nearby, as well as water flowing underground. Why did the cholera spread so quickly? Why did the water treatment plants stop working? There was no catastrophic disaster kicking all this off, but the world sure did go bad quickly. Why? Why? Why?


Though plot gaps exist and rape is overused as a plot device, I really enjoyed reading Not A Drop To Drink. Fast-paced with well-defined, likeable characters. And no sequel–yay!


We don’t have it, and with all the rape references, I can’t get it.


  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 5/5–loved the characters!
  • Engrossing: 5/5–read almost in one sitting
  • Writing: 4/5–lots of unanswered questions about the world
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5–the rape stuff will bother some readers
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: medium–includes fu** and sh**
  • Sexuality: medium–some kissing; tons of rape references (not described)
  • Violence: high–gun violence, wild animal attacks, suicide
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium–the “bad guys” drink alcohol and barter for alcohol/cigarettes; OTC and RX medical drugs used for medical emergencies


This is a Librarian's Perspective Review of Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  This is a Librarian's Perspective Review of Stung by Bethany Wiggins.

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