Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Title: In a Handful of Dust
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Narrator(s): Allyson Ryan
Series:  Not a Drop to Drink, book #2
Length: 9 hrs 10 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher, audiobook received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

Not a Drop to Drink was a surprising favorite for me last year, despite its bleak tone and gut-wrenching ending. I thrive on books that take a hypothetical situation and make it seem all too real...and possible. That's what the first book in this series did for me. And In a Handful of Dust was no less genuine or realistic, but it was even more depressing than its predecessor.

I listened to the audio for the first book as a refresher about a month before I received this audiobook for review, and I thought that narrator did a fine job of bringing the characters to life. However, I think Allyson Ryan really captured the tone and presence of the characters in this second book. Lynn sounds like the hardened, world-weary woman that she is on the page, and Lucy is the young woman who's still cautiously optimistic, despite all of her pseudo-mother's reservations about what lies ahead of them. As I said, this story is every bit as depressing as the first book, if not more so, and the narrator did a great job of culminating that sense of despair and loss in the listener.

Let's see...I don't want to spoil anything for Not a Drop to Drink -- though these are technically companion novels, you'll understand the characters a lot better if you read them in order -- but there was quite a bit of death. That's to be expected in a world where water is scarce and disease runs rampant. There's a lot of death in this novel, as well, but it's of a different nature, and it's what eventually leads Lynn and Lucy to leave the relative safety of their home in Ohio to head to California.

This book is one big journey across the country, complete with bumps and scrapes along the way. Plenty of them, in fact. Because of this, the book had a very Wild West vibe to it, despite the fact that the women come across cell towers and power lines and even a car along the way. Sometimes, it was easy to forget that this story takes place after the fall of technology, not before it. For a lot of the book, though, the plot just plods along, much like the riders on their horses, but there were some intense moments and big reveals that made the story otherwise enjoyable. For what it's worth, I just didn't have the same emotional connection to the story that I did with Not a Drop to Drink.

Oh, and if you were expecting any kind of romance in this book, let me just stop you right now. There are zero swoons in this book. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Oh, there was the possibility of it, sure, but nothing ever came to fruition. I wasn't expecting much considering how little there was in the first book, but even I was a little bit disappointed. BUT, if you like heartbreak, this book's got it in spades. From the mother/daughter-like relationship between Lynn and Lucy to their interactions with strangers, this book brings the feels.

I enjoyed the time I spent listening to this novel for the most part, but it just didn't hit me quite like the first book. It's hard for me to put my finger on just why that is, though. I think the biggest difference for me was that Lynn and Lucy's characters were so dissimilar, and I much preferred Lynn's narrative because I thought her overall arc really showed her character growth and ability to finally open her heart, whereas Lucy was always more open and her main growth was in overcoming her fear of her place in the world.

Overall, In a Handful of Dust is a truly heartfelt story. It's beautifully told and the author depicts such a vivid landscape. Unfortunately, it just lacked that certain something to maintain the connection I had from the first book.

GIF it to me straight:
Gah, this book made me so damn thirsty!

About the author:

I'm a YA librarian and author, represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. My YA debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, is a survival tale set in a world with limited fresh water. It will be available from Katherine Tegen / Harper Collins, September 24, 2013.

I'm an avid blogger, posting six days a week to my personal blog, Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, which features interviews with agents, established authors, and debut authors. Learn how they landed their agents, what the submission process is really like, and how it feels when you see your cover for the first time. I also do query critiques every Saturday on the Saturday Slash for those who are brave enough to volunteer.

I also contribute to the group blogs From the Write Angle, Book Pregnant, Friday the Thirteeners, The Lucky 13s, The League of Extraordinary Writers and am a member of the Class of 2k13.

Find Mindy:

Website | BlogTwitter | FacebookGoodreads | YouTube | Tumblr | Pinterest

1 comment:

  1. I tried to read the first book a couple of weeks ago but I couldn't get past two chapters. I'm thinking the audiobook would be better?


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