The Water Wars
by Cameron Stracher
16 year-old Vera and her brother Will live in a dystopian future America where states have combined resources in their battle to keep and retain what little potable water still exists. Her hardscrabble existence changes with the arrival of mysterious newcomer Kai who appears to have a limitless supply of water and money.
The plotline with Vera's sick mother seemed a little melodramatic for my taste - her mother is generally too weak and bedridden to convey much personality at all. While Vera has some stirrings of feeling for Kai, on the whole, their relationship is very tentative. Water Wars is certain to be compared to Pam Bachorz's Drought, but the feel is very different. I was actually reminded more of The City of Ember by Jeanne Dupreau. Vera and her brother seem so childlike, it would have made more sense if they were only 12 or 13.
Vera's theory that Kai's father is a black-market water trader seems like a plausible one, and the revelation that Kai actually has a magical ability to dowse for water is surprising. When Kai disappears, Vera and Will go on a quest to find him, and meet up with some water pirates, eco-terrorists who are ready to blow up dams in Canada in order to prove that the water shortages are false.
As beautiful as the cover is, I almost wish there had been a different design - the amazing headshot of Vera with the water eyelash will likely draw in YA readers who will be disappointed by the anemic romance. The fast-moving plot, pulse-pounding action sequences, naive main characters and clear-cut villains of The Water Wars might be better marketed to a middle-grade audience.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.