Not a Drop to Drink is Mindy McGinnis's debut novel and tells the story of Lynn, a sixteen year old girl living alone on a homestead in Ohio with her mother. It is set at some point in the future where oil has all but run out and the Earth's supply of fresh drinking water has all but run out. Lynn and her mother defend the small pond on their land by shooting anyone who goes near it. I know!
Their self-contained lifestyle is turned upside down when a small group of people settle by the stream a little way away from Lynn's home. The outsiders gradually insinuate themselves with Lynn and her similarly isolated neighbour, Stebbs until their way of life is threatened by a group of men who have settled in the next town over.
Lynn develops immensely as a character over the course of the book and goes from being hardened, gun-slinging and totally isolated from human contact to developing a sense of empathy and gaining a small, loyal circle of friends. There is a romantic sub-plot, but it doesn't overwhelm the book and mostly just shows how Lynn starts to develop her humanity.
The theme is very much of survival against all odds and there's a really interesting juxtaposition between the city, which we are only told about second hand, where it seems very future dystopia, very military-controlled, people all crammed in together and reminded me slightly of Divergent, and the outer areas, where it is very much a frontier lifestyle, even down to the way people talk. They shoot now and ask questions later and it reminded my a lot of the frontier moons on Firefly.
Mindy McGinnis has dropped a few neat little hooks into the story - one of the characters, Lucy, is a natural water diviner and there are rumours that California has its own desalinisation plants - that set things up nicely for the next book which, I understand, is set a decade in the future and tells Lucy's story.
The only thing I had an issue with was such a small thing it almost seems inconsequential. *Spoiler Alert* At one point, it is alluded to that Lucy's mother had been raped by the soldiers who arrested her family. I didn't see that there was any reason for this: it did nothing to move the plot along - her subsequent grief and poor mental state could be easily justified by the murder of her husband and stillbirth of her child. Added to the fact that the men threatening Lynn's teeny little settlement are a bunch of rapist whoremongers, it came across as a bit 'All Men Are Rapists'.
Honestly, though, that was the only criticism I had. Other than that, it was an extremely well-written book with a really strong female protagonist who didn't need a man to weigh in and rescue her (yay!) and had plenty of evil meanies to hate (boo!).