Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dystopian Pick: Drought

by Pam Bachorz
Egmont, 2011
400 pages

Following on the heels of her success with Candor, Bachorz enters a new and frightening world--a world that time forgot, or at least appears to have forgotten. Ruby and her mother live with a small group of Congregants who have settled in the woods. Here they are able to practice their religion without interference; however, their day-to-day existence is decided by Darwin West, an evil man who beats them into subservience and forces them to work and live in conditions few could survive. The Congregants have a secret weapon--when Ruby realizes her blood has the power to save, she begins putting drops of her own blood in the community's water supply. Not only does her blood have the power to sustain them, it has the power to make them have long lives--some of the Congregants have been in the woods over 200 years.

When a young overseer appears to have feelings of sympathy for her group, Ruby dreams of escape. Will she be able to leave her mother and all that she has ever known for the unknown? Will she be able to leave the Congregants without her life-saving blood?

Deeply moving and greatly disturbing, this novel will leave an impression. Like Lowrey's The Giver, Drought brings up ethical and moral questions and skirts religious beliefs held by the community of followers. Readers will be talking about Drought for days, maybe even months after reading it. Unlike her first novel, Drought is not just a young adult novel--it is one that may make it into the "Required Reading Lists" at the high school level.

I read Drought and thought about it for two weeks before reviewing it. I had to let the story sink in and think about its complexity. While appearing to be a ya novel, it is so much more.

Highly recommended grades 9-12. Mature readers at grade 8 may attempt this book, but they may not realize the provocative theme and symbolism. Violence.

Available January 25, 2011.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

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