Sunday, June 5, 2011

YA Fantasy: Drought by Pam Bachorz

Most other readers tend to classify Drought as science fiction, but in my little categorical world, I consider it fantasy after having read it. But onto the important stuff:

Ruby has lived with the Congregation her whole life - all two hundred years. Since 1812, the Congregation - followers of Otto - have been imprisoned by Darwin West, the malevolent would-be lover of Ruby's mother. Every day, Darwin and his Overseers force the Congregants to gather Water, the source of their immortality. Ruby longs to break away from slavery, but her duty is towards the Congregation. When she finds love with a kind Overseer, however, will she give up hope for the return of Otto and run away from the only world she's ever known?

I really wanted to like this book. The plot's a bit odd, but it's interesting - think "The Village" + Tuck Everlasting + dystopia. Unfortunately, the weirdness made it hard for some things to be developed fully. Ruby's been growing up for two hundred years, but her voice remains that of your standard teenager - you'd think her prolonged maturation would leave her different from ordinary teens. Also, there's the cult of Otto. Maybe it's because, at some points, it seemed like Bachorz was about to start some philosophical and religious debate (this never actually panned out), but the religion of the Congregation never quite clicked. My other problem with Drought was the slowness of the story. "Okay, so the book's going to be about Ruby breaking out of imprisonment to save the Congregation. [100 pages later] Still waiting for the escape... [page 200] Oh! Now we're getting somewhere...or not. [Rest of the book] And we're still waiting..." So, what redeems Drought as decent book to read? At the end, we finally get somewhere with the whole leaving-the-group thing that the story's been building up to! And there's some nice psychological and sociological stuff about groups getting stuck in ruts and not wanting to change even negative things, which works in my penchant for dystopias with a deeper message. I'm assuming that there's a sequel, and I will be reading it. Why? Because I liked that deeper sociological stuff at the very end, and I really want to know who the heck Otto is, how he came to be so special, and why he hasn't returned for two hundred years.

My copy of Drought was won in a giveaway from Queen of Happy Endings. Published by Egmont, Drought went on sale January 25, 2011.

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