Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: The Water Knife

The Water Knife 

by Paolo Bacigalupi
Knopf, 2015
Source: purchased
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Paolo Bacigalupi introduces a future America, that may not be too far off base.  Water has become a high commodity, especially in the south western states, where The Water Knife is set, and the states of Nevada, Arizona, and California are basically at war.  Angel Velasquez works for Catherine Case, who runs Vegas and ensures that her citizens are supplied with water and everything they might need--if they have the money to pay.  Angel's job to cut the water for towns or subdivisions who are keeping it from Vegas.  Their current threat is Phoenix, where he finds himself deep in the middle of something huge.  He meets Lucy Monroe, a reporter whose onto something big, but she knows it might mean she ends up dead like her friends.  She knows she can't trust Angel, but is intrigued by him.  Maria Villarosa, a poor Texan refugee, is desperately trying to find a way out, but instead finds herself caught up in the evil that surrounds her.

I was really looking forward to reading this, but also a little afraid to read it.  This seemed like it might be a little too close for comfort and it really was.  I don't even live in the south west, but it was such a bleak and awful look at a future where something we depend on to survive is practically gone, and that's scary.  The effects in this book reached beyond the south west and towards other parts of country and beyond.  The world that Bacigalupi has created is dark and seedy and really truly evil.  There are gangs which control every inch of Phoenix and pimp out young girls, collect on debts, "tax" people trying to make money, and feed people to a pack of hyenas.  It's terrifying.  I would not survive in this world.  I know that much, because the civilized people aren't much better.  They "go slumming" to see how Texas refugees survive and buy "blood rags" full of pictures of bodies and death and anything else shocking.  There is a body loteria for what the death count will be that day.

Overall, it was hard to get through.  Not so much due to the horror of it all, but the characters weren't extremely compelling to me.  Angel was a "bad guy" who we discover has a soft side.  Lucy is the journalist who wants to write about important ideas, but is afraid to get in too deep, only to find out that she already has gotten in too deep.  Maria is the poor little teenager forced to harden herself to the realities of her new life.  They weren't really as cliche'd as that sounds, but also they weren't really that original either.

I do think it's worth a read, but it's not one that I'm going to read again or that I would wholeheartedly suggest to many people.  I know a few who would probably enjoy it, but not too many.

If you're looking for other dystopian, post-apocalyptic type books, check out these reviews:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendel

Slated by Teri Terry (YA)

Image Source: Goodreads

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