Not a Drop to Drink

Not a Drop to Drink

3.82 (12,970 ratings by Goodreads)
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Fans of classic frontier survival stories, as well as readers of dystopian literature, will enjoy this futuristic story where water is worth more than gold. New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant says Not a Drop to Drink is a debut "not to be missed." With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl's journey in a frontierlike world not so different from our own.

Teenage Lynn has been taught to defend her pond against every threat: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and most important, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty--or doesn't leave at all. Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. But when strangers appear, the mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won't stop until they get it. . . .

For more in this gritty world, join Lynn on an epic journey to find home in the companion novel, In a Handful of Dust.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 140 x 210 x 30mm | 405g
  • HarperCollins
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0062198505
  • 9780062198501
  • 204,148

Back cover copy

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most important, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, the nighttime threats, and the gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won't stop until they get it. . . .

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl's journey in a barren world not so different from our own.
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Review quote

A high-quality survivalist story for readers who enjoy internal story arcs as well as external dangers. -- Kirkus Reviews

The intensity of action moves the story forward, but not at the expense of character development. The complex, authentic characters are neither fully evil nor unbelievably good. The honest and hopeful ending--while not "happily ever after"--will resonate with readers and leave them asking for more. -- Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

Those in search of fierce female survivalist characters need look no further than this. -- Booklist

In an understated but gripping debut, McGinnis paints a stark picture of a world not far removed from our own, concentrating on Lynn's gradual emotional growth as contrasted against the physical harshness of her existence. -- Publishers Weekly

A brutally beautiful debut, not to be missed. NOT A DROP TO DRINK is an unwavering story with incredible drama, danger, and power. This writer is for real. -- Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series

I can't say enough good things about the writing, and the characterization. If you're looking for grit, realism and heart, you found it. -- Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood

Deftly written, Mindy McGinnis's NOT A DROP TO DRINK is a frightening picture of a potential future without fresh water, which left me ridiculously grateful for my working faucet. This post-apocalyptic survival tale is about so much more than just survival. I loved it. -- Jodi Meadows, author of the Incarnate trilogy

Set against the grim backdrop of an all-too-possible future, McGinnis's very fine coming of age novel doesn't stint on lifes hard lessons--or its triumphs. Lynn's story is what Laura Ingalls Wilder might've penned if she'd traveled a frontier imagined by Cormac McCarthy. -- Ilsa Bick, award-winning author of the Ashes trilogy and THE SIN-EATER'S CONFESSION
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Rating details

12,970 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 25% (3,303)
4 42% (5,389)
3 25% (3,182)
2 6% (822)
1 2% (274)

Our customer reviews

Not a Drop to Drink created quite a lot of hype when it was released. I really couldn’t wait to read it but the problem with hype is that it often creates unrealistic expectations that just cannot be met. My expectations for this book were admittedly high and had this been written in any other way I would have probably not liked it as much as I did. I read a lot and come across books that are truly original rarely but it is always a nice surprise when it happens. This is what Not a Drop to Drink was for me, a truly surprising and original book and dares to tread a different path to all the other young adult dystopia’s that have come before it. It stands up to the expectation surrounding it because when you read it becomes quickly apparent that this is not a re-hash of something you have read before. Not a Drop to Drink starts with a bang and from there didn’t let up once. It was interesting and absorbing from page one. It was brutal and disturbing from beginning to end but I never once felt it had gone too far. Mindy McGinnis is not afraid to take risks with her plot line and she managed to constantly surprise me with the directions she chose to take her story in. There was a moment towards the end that really shocked me and I couldn’t quite believe she had done it but it worked and it was needed. The writing is strong. There is a sense of isolation and fear that runs through the book. It was atmospheric and easy to get lost in. McGinnis builds a strong, well rounded world and the ease of her writing allows you to really get involved with the characters and action. The characters were really great. The main character Lynn is likeable, smart and capable. In some ways she is naïve and vulnerable because she has no understanding of how to interact with people but she is by far the strongest of all the characters in terms of courage and determination. So many of these post apocalypse novels feature a female character that goes from normal and caring to warrior/freedom fighter. Not a Drop to Drink did things the other way round which was really refreshing. Lynn was also great because she didn’t care about her looks, didn’t care what others thought of her or if the boy she liked, liked her back. She cared about the pond and surviving which was just as it should have been. Eli is another great character, I guess he would be classed as ‘the love interest’ but that term should be used loosely here. He brings the personality to the book and is physically and mentally weaker than Lynn but more socially aware. He is smart, funny and brave in his own way and is a great match for Lynn. If Lynn is the strength and Eli is the personality it falls to Stebbs to be the heart. He is a man full of kindness in a world that has forgotten how to be decent. He is a father figure, partner and friend to Lynn when she desperately needs the support. It was great to see an adult in a YA book that was a truly great person something that I really wish there was more of in this genre. Stebbs was by far my favourite character. Not a Drop to Drink is not a book about war or fighting against a corrupt leadership or government it is a book about survival. It asks a lot of questions about how far a person is willing to go to survive and if survival is truly worth it if you have to do it alone. It is about friendship, trust, sacrifice and is packed full of surprises and genuinely tense moments. Mindy McGinnis has done a great job at creating something different is a severely over worked more
by Kate Phillips
Loved it so freaking much! From page 1 to the very end, I was completely captivated. I read this whole book in two days because I just couldn't put it down. Not a Drop to Drink is the best book I've read in 2013 Completely perfect in every way, Not a Drop to Drink is gritty, emotional, beautifully written, and most important of all, real. This book felt in real in every way. I had the chance to meet Mindy and I could really tell how passionate she is about water conservation and it really shined though into the book. I truly have nothing negative to say. At all. I actually re-read a few pages, looking for something negative and I couldn't find it. I could go on and on about how much I freaking loved this book. Thank you Mindy McGinnis for getting me out of a reading rut I didn't even know I was in. Not a Drop to Drink is fast paced, exciting, had me on the verge of tears more then once, and I did cry I little at the end. I would recommend this book to everyone. Not just YA readers but seriously, everyone. I will force every single person I know to read this book because I loved it so. Freaking. Much. The ending was just... Epic. I couldn't believe what I was reading and my heart stopped beating a couple times. Overall, I loved this book and everyone should read it. And thanks Mindy McGinnis for writing an outstanding debut novel that I'm so passionate about. I'll read anything with the name Mindy McGinnis on the more
by taylor knight
We are The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club, to know more about this book, dream cast and playlist go to the post in our website: If you are interested, you can visit our website: The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club's Review: "Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no WATER." Review: Welcome to a world where water is the most precious thing on Earth. Not having drinkable water has brought some diseases extinct long time ago and one primal instinct of survival. Not A Drop To Drink is not a sweet, dystopian story where all you need is "the power of love" to survive. This could be a manual to survive in a not so far reality. And Mindy McGinnis did an incredible job showing as a possible future, where you fight to survive and you defend what's yours, in this case a pond. "Do you want to die like this?" Mother had asked that night and every night since then. Lynn's answer never changed. "No." And Mother's response, their evening prayer. "Then you will have to kill." It was almost breathtaking living in Lynn's skin. Her strength, determination and survival instinct is admirable and, yet, you find her that she doesn't know a lot of things from our world, our generation, where there was plenty of water. A kind of shocking aspect was that Lynn keeps her fears close. Her mother showed her every night what meant to die from dehydration. And it was not nice. So she keeps telling herself what she has to lose and what would happen to her, If she didn't fight or kill. She hasn't met a world where there's not a day you need to fight to stay alive. She's only tasted the water from the pond and finds hard to believe long time ago there was another reality to the one she's living. What I also really liked about Lynn was her badass side, she can shoot a rifle with deadly accuracy (I wouldn't mess with her, guys!) and, yet, her naïve side. The last thing is because of her not knowing anything apart from survival skills: not love, not having a healthy relationship without suspecting they are gonna kill her and steal the water from her, etc. When tragedy strikes and Lynn's left alone to make her own decisions and helps a family, she learns more about the world. Stebbs, Mother and Lynn's neighbor, teaches her that there's still goodness out there and that she needs to try that. The most heartbreaking lesson for me was Neva's, showing her what's like to sacrifice herself. Eli teaches her to fall in love and Lucy shows her what a family really is for. Mother, Lynn's mom, is the perfect example of what you could call the "before and after". When you live in a world where you need to survive and kill to stay alive is hard, but when you have seen and lived better days, it's nearly impossible to keep sane and/or sweet. And that's what Lynn's mother represents: knowing better days. At least for me. The plot in general is realistic, brutal and completely honest. Ms. McGinnis brings you to a cruel world where you fight or you die. However, there's place for romance, too. Don't panic, romance-lovers! Although it's not the center of the story, there's a sweet, breathtaking and pure romance in Not A Drop To Drink. However, one thing it's true, Mindy McGinnis was "heartless" when it came to harm her characters. But in a credible way. There's no way, they would all survive. And I'm going to stop right there, because If you want to know what really happens here, you'll need to give this story a shot. It's a pure dystopian story and If you're in love with this genre, I totally recommend you this book. You're gonna love Lynn's world and story and although the story, at first, is a little bit slow, you won't be able to stop reading once you have started. And that's why we are giving this book a four and a half gorjuss dolls. Enter the harsh world of Not A Drop To Drink and try to survive, Book Addicts, because this could be a bloody, unraveling and unexpected mess. "You can't change the things you've done. It's now and the here on out you've got control of."show more
Ten Likes/Dislikes: 1. (+) Lynn, the protagonist - Kick-ass protagonist extraordinaire. Lynn had to kill her first man at the age of nine (first line of the book - not a spoiler) and has always had to help her mother purify water for them to store and later drink. Help her gather wood and cook the game that they muster before the winter chill sets in and forces them to hibernate in their all-too-vulnerable house. This has made Lynn into a pragmatic, no nonsense heroine who is willing to get the job done right and well even when the task is hard. Does that mean she's not emotional? Not at all. Given the things that Lynn has to do and given how she suffers, it's easy to identify with her and her struggles. And hey, this protagonist knows how to wield a shotgun. Knows to strip a body for goods and to take night watches on the roof of her house -- it's hard not to admire someone who's so determined, so smart and loyal and fierce and utterly competent. 2. (+) World-building - This is where the book excels. Mindy McGinnis paints a world that is so stark and realistic that it's frightening. Honestly, as she unveiled how the world degenerated, I realized that that kind of situation could actually happen. And you know it takes true talent to make that backstory and the individual details of the world itself come to life. You learn of Lynn's water purification system, the cholera endemic, and survivalist details like how to cure animals, how to witch water and set fires that don't just give off smoke. You learn about the city and its population standards and law makers and the wild where Lynn lives, and how the Shortage originated and was handled politically across the world. You learn about coyotes and gangrene and both the ugly and beautiful sides to nature. To contrast all the lovely details are random famous English poems (i.e. one from Yeats, some from Frost, etc.). The plot is firmly set in the little every day details of this world and what it means to live when water is in limited supply. 3. (+) Romance - Here's the thing: Eli doesn't do much for me as a romantic interest - we don't learn a lot about him - but I'm okay with that because the focus isn't on the romance, that side plot. The romance is good for what it is. A lightening factor. A thread of hope and love in a dark world, brimming with the stink of death and the chill of harsh winters. Eli is a city boy matched to the country girl, Lynn, and he teases her in such a way that immediately endears me to him. He never mocked Lynn for her ignorance, instead treating her with a soft kindness that made him adorable. He alternates between brave and desperate, teasing and gentle, secretive and real, but at the end of day, like Lynn, he's only trying his hardest for the ones he loves. 4. (+) Unconventional - You know that Frost poem that says "I took the road less traveled by--and that has made all the difference?" This book quotes that and quite appropriately given its unconventional context. For one, you've got a dystopia that doesn't involve a lot of action and isn't wholly symbolic a la Matched or poetic a la Wither. Instead you've got a dystopia that focuses on the harsh edges of humanity and the thin balance between survival and morality and meaning. You've also got a feminist bent on a wildly harsh, almost Western-esque (minus the Ohio setting) story and an author who's willing to take huge risks across the board. And because this book was so unconventional, I was honestly thrown for a loop when it came to some of the plot twists. 5. (+) Humor - If this story was only about survival, I probably wouldn't have been as interested or drawn to its characters. What makes this story work are the few bouts of humor, sometimes bleak and dark to fit the story but most of the times humor due to Lynn's ignorance. Having been raised in the middle of nowhere with only her Mother and paranoia for company, Lynn doesn't know how to flirt and has that awkward sex-ed talk way too late in her life. Yes, a lot of books have humor based on sexual naivete, but there's a wonderful authenticity to this shown in Lynn's pragmatism and no nonsense attitude except for when the right moment comes. It works well with the feminist aspects. 6. (+) Character Growth & Relationships - Particularly the strong female relationships - let me mention that off the bat; if you're looking for more strong friendships in YA lit, look no further than this book. In order to grow, Lynn must make open herself to strangers instead of blithely shooting at everyone who dares to approach. In doing so, she meets some particularly awesome characters who become her family, her meaning, her guides to how to live the life that she wants/needs but doesn't realize just yet. I thought that each of the relationships that Lynn had with the characters (even if I wanted more information on the characters themselves) was well developed. 7. (+/-) That Special Spark - Really, Not a Drop to Drink is everything the synopsis says the book is: Minimalist prose. Kick-ass, competent heroine. Not a lot of action, but a lot of thought-provoking details on the wilderness and how to survive and what it means to survive (the themes are really great, explored well and have the potential to be extensively discussed). This was a great read and executed well. However, it probably won't make my favorites list, because as much as I appreciated the quiet steadiness of this novel, a part of me also longed for more excitement. As usual, special spark = personal preference. 8. (+) Writing - The summary describes this writing well: there is not a single wasted detail on the setting, the labor involved in various tasks, etc. and when it comes to action? Ooh, the bloody images. McGinnis does not spare you, which of course fits with the survivalist feel. This also means for some beautifully simple yet evocative prose (Another low moan rose from the grass. "That was a good shot," Mother said, nodding toward it. / "Not good enough." / Mother shrugged. "It was dark." She rose and stretched out her stiff body, a sign that she truly felt safe. "You'll get better." / Another cry. Mother licked her finger, tested the wind, and fired once into the night. / Silence fell. (p. 21 in e-arc, quote may change later.)). There are also a lot of scene breaks. 9. (+/-) Pacing - Because this book focuses on the every day life of Lynn and the others near her pond, the times when things do happen seem to hit you in the face, if that makes sense. The book has a traditional, linear storyline in the sense that you can tell Lynn's got her character arc and that the book builds to a climax, but the climax, while epic and brutal, wasn't as long as I would have hoped and in between those spurts of action, I felt restless, wanting more. 10. (+) Cover - This is still quite possibly my favorite cover of 2013. The bold font, the symbolism in the colors, the depiction of the plot and the setting, Lynn standing on her roof, shotgun in hand. SO beautiful. If you're a lover of the wilderness, of the scope of the settings in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, this book is for you. If you wanted less visceral, heart-pumping action from The Hunger Games and more focus on the survivalist aspects, this book is for you. In fact, some of the action reminded me of No Country for Old Men (the blood spatter! the hard choices! Lynn and her shotgun and spending "every minute living working against dying"), but this book also has a feminist twist. The author described this book as Little House on the Prairie on steroids, or LHotP meets The Hunger Games. These are both truly accurate descriptions, and although this book fell just short of being a favorite, I can do nothing but recommend it and hope that it flies off the shelves and gets well stocked at more
by Christina @ Christina Reads YA
Wow. I totally can't imagine living in a world like this and can't help but think that I would be one of the people who couldn't survive. So, when I meet a strong and capable main character like Lynn, I am always in awe. Lynn grew up with her mom, and her mom taught her everything she knew. In this world, their pond is the most important thing, and they defend it with their lives, and for them that also means taking lives. Lynn knows how to shoot, purify water, cut down trees, skin and dress a deer basically everything that keeps them alive in a world without help, stores, electricity, or running water. It is so hard to review without spoiling things, but basically Lynn grows through some of the people that unexpectedly comes into her life and makes her question some of the things she was taught about outsiders. There are also some that prove everything right. There is such character development and that is one of the things that I love. Through a little girl Lucy, the most change, determination and strength came out in Lynn. She not only had a helper in Lucy, and someone else to teach how to survive, but she also had a lot to learn from the little girl. Seeing the bigger picture, survival, and not bothering the adults even with something that should have needed their attention, she was selfless and caring to others. The theme of family, togetherness, and friendship really shone through these two characters in particular. The romance is sweet and subtle, a slow build, my favorite kind. Lynn knew nothing about men except they were evil from her mom, and she realizes that just like women, they can be good or bad, or some shade of gray in the middle. So it is really fun to watch her learn what flirting is. The story would have been a five star if it weren't for the ending. I guess that for some it would be great, realistic, and fitting for the story, but for me, it did not work. I was so heartbroken and though the way it ended up was full of hope in promise in others, I still couldn't get over the shock and the loss. Bottom Line: Loved the main character, and 3/4 of the story but the ending was NOT for more
by Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books)
Tez Miller at Tez Says Big respect to Mindy McGinnis for having the guts to present a pus-and-all tale of survivalism and tough decisions. Instead of contrived drama, the daily fight-or-flight situations are bang on the money, with no easy answers. Readers may be enraged that not everyone lives, but I adore the refreshing honesty and realism that NOT A DROP TO DRINK presents. Not everyone gets a happy ending, but they get the RIGHT one, and that's the most respectful thing an author can do for readers and characters alike. Will definitely be checking out the author's next novel (A HANDFUL OF DUST, 2014).show more
by Tez Miller
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