A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.
Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.
When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.
I was blown away with Not a Drop to Drink, I thought it was brilliantly done. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this companion novel and see what McGinnis was going to hit us with this time. This book was bound to surprise me in some way and it surely did. I had a couple moments that I didn’t see coming.
Overall, this book was slow paced though McGinnis’ writing was intriguing enough to keep me invested though not a lot was happening. Some areas did drag a bit more than I would have liked. You can see from the above summary that in this book we focus on Lynn and Lucy’s story, both of which we were introduced to in Not a Drop to Drink. I loved revisiting some of the characters from the prior book though the secondary characters are only present for a very short time.
Most of this book centers on the cross country journey our main characters are on. We are introduced to new characters on their path and learn a bit more about this world without water. The entire book has a very western feel since everything has been reduced to finding water and traveling by foot or horseback. The path was strewn with many obstacles for our leads that gave the book some needed action sequences. Of course the stakes are high but though I worried for our characters I was never as invested as I was with the first book. I think I got thrown off by the slower pacing but I can’t be sure why I didn’t connect as deeply this time around.
Once we get to some of the big reveals they are sure to surprise the reader. I wasn’t overly enthused about one in particular. It felt almost overblown to add some shock value to an otherwise slow story line. That sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. I just didn’t feel it was overly realistic. Or, perhaps I’d rather not think it would be for my own sanity.
We spend a short amount of time with Vera, Stebbs and the rest of the old cast of characters because only Lynn and Lucy are really focused on. It’s not far into the story that they take off on their journey.
As in the first novel McGinnis has crafted a beautifully touching and poignant relationship between these two women. I loved their mother/daughter relationship and felt that it was the driving force for the novel. Though there are many action scenes within In a Handful of Dust it read more character driven story to me. I think the readers enjoyment will depend upon how connected they feel towards Lynn and Lucy. Without a deep level of emotional connection this book might fall flat for some readers.
We are introduced to a handful of new characters that I never fully trusted or cared for. They all had a role to play in Lynn and Lucy’s journey but I wasn’t overly enthused to read about any of them but one. I’ll let you read to figure out if and who you connect with. For the most part the characters were well developed though a few later in the novel felt very one dimensional to me.
McGinnis’ writing was a strong as ever and her ability to create realistic and emotional relationships between her characters was impressive. Though I enjoyed In a Handful of Dust I never had the level of connection that I’d have liked. I felt the pacing was a bit on the slow side though I’ll not soon be forgetting Lynn and Lucy’s story any time soon.