Review: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

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Back in 2010, when I was a mere 12 years old, I somehow stumbled across a book online that was soon to be released. It was called: The Water Wars, and upon reading the synopsis and seeing the amazing cover, I simply knew I had to have it. I remember asking my parents for it, and upon my 13th birthday, I woke up to find that they had indeed gotten me a hardcover copy of it.

I remember flying through the pages of it, seeing if it would meet my expectations. And for the most part, it did. I recently looked back at the book, which has prompted me to write a review of the book I had anticipated so much.

This is a review of the Water Wars, where a girl and her brother must leave home and go on a journey across the barren nation in order to save their friend.

Synopsis: *SPOILERS AHEAD*

Vera, a 15 year old girl, lives with her older brother, her father, and her mother who suffers from a mysterious illness. One day, while waiting at the bus stop, she meets a boy named Kai. He is a diviner, a person who can find water in the most unapparent of places. Her life is turned upside down as they become friends and he is able to supply the family with clean drinking water as opposed to the filtered salt water that is rationed out to them, which helps Vera’s mother a little. All is well until Kai goes missing one day, his house ransacked. It is then that Kai and Vera decide to leave home to look for him, and thus begins the vast journey of The Water Wars.

Along the way on their search for their friend, the teens meet pirates, environmentalists, and government agents, almost all of them acting as antagonists (except the pirate Ulysses, who comes to become an ally.) A variety of locations are explored, and all sorts of crazy incidents happen (a revolt at Niagara Falls, an explosion at a dam, and a

Soon enough, with all that excitement going on, Vera, Will, and their pirate friend Ulysses are captured by the very people who have captured Kai, which is technically a good thing, as it brings them closer to him. Vera and Will manage to escape, where they meet a new friend, a woman who can *conveniently* pilot almost any vehicle and is armed with a harpoon. They go back to rescue Ulysses, who was injured, and there they devise a plan to find and rescue Kai. I don’t want to give away the details of the escape, because it’s something you should read for yourself, but they do ultimately rescue Kai and his dad, and everyone goes back home to live happily ever after (after one more conflict resolution, of course.)

The novel ends with Vera and Will returning to their father with fresh water for their mother to drink. 🙂

Review: 

As I said in my review of of Matched by Ally Condie, I’m not going to let my love of the genre, or my intense desire for this book (Hey, I was only in 7th grade!) cloud my judgement of it. I’ve reread the book a couple of times, once recently before this review. While I’ll always love this book for the sentimental value behind it, there are some issues behind it.

Let’s get started!

The Water Wars: 2.99999/5

For some reason, giving this book a 3 just doesn’t feel right, especially after giving Matched a 3.5 in my last review. There are a few key issues that I had that are keeping me from bumping it up there. However, I don’t feel like it deserves a 2 or 2.5. It’s just floating in the space between those two ratings.

One of the main issues I had with The Water Wars was just how many characters and settings there were. I get that it was an adventurous dystopian novel, but we go almost everywhere, from Vera’s home in Illinowa all to Niagra Falls in Canada, which has pretty much dried up. Along the way, we also meet a variety of characters, such as Will, Vera, and boyfriend Kai, along with pirates, members of environmental organizations, and plenty more underdeveloped characters, none of whom are entirely memorable. The many settings and characters make it kind of hard to remember who’s who, or why that person is doing a certain thing. It’s also kind of hard to get attached to certain characters. I can’t even remember the name of the woman Vera and Kai meet in the water after their escape near the end of the book, even though she’s a major part in Kai’s rescue. All I could tell you is that Vera remarked that her violet eyes were trustworthy. Yippee.

Anyway, the book was quite fast paced. There were few dull moments, with tones of action. Of course, that also leads to the lack of enough character development. With so many new people introduced so often, you can barely get a grasp on them before the plot moves on and leaves them behind. I think of everyone we meet along aside from Vera, Will, and Kai, we learn the most about Ulysses, with some background info given about his beliefs and family. Other than that, not much depth is given to some characters.

This book did have it’s good points, though. It’s a very interesting concept, with the lack of water and wars being fought over water. It really makes you think about how trivial some of the modern wars can be at times. The war going on in this novel is over one of the most basic survival needs: water. Of everything to fight over, fighting over water can actually be validated. Of course, I don’t want to start a military debate, so I’ll leave it at that. The scene with Niagara falls is powerful, as you see all of the poor children who have been forced to try to find precious water in the almost completely dried up area. Also, to imagine Niagara Falls without the beautiful waterfall is almost terrifying. What would the world have come to by the time that happens?

All-in-all, I feel like The Water Wars is worth a read if you like the idea of a water-deprived world and don’t mind a lot of different settings, characters, and motivations to keep track of. I think that if you just sit down and read the book in one or two sittings, it wouldn’t be as confusing. Flaws aside, it’s a good adventure dystopia that leaves you wanting to read more about what happens next. I don’t know if there will be a sequel, but I’m hoping for one.

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