Review: DROUGHT by Pam Bachorz

Posted 24 January, 2011 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 1 Comment

Final Grade: 95/A
400 pages
YA Dystopian
Available January 25, 2011
Review copy provided by publisher
Rated PG
BLURB: Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved. 

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood. So she stays. 

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

MY THOUGHTS: Ruby is 200 years old and the youngest person in her community. Yeah, I had to read over that bit a couple of times before it sunk in. Really, she’s about 15 or 16 (I’m guessing) but has aged incredibly slowly due to what her people call Water. In her community, everyone slaves away (quite literally—there are Overseers who beat them with chains and starve them when they don’t do what they’re supposed to) collecting water using spoons and pewter cups and putting it in huge cisterns where it becomes “Water” (well, after Ruby adds her blood to it). And they pray to Otto, Ruby’s father and founder of the community, hoping he will return as he promised and take them away from their life of drudgery.
I had so many questions the entire time I was reading this book: What was the Water? What was up with Ruby’s blood? Were they some kind of new vampire? Why didn’t they just leave? Who are they collecting the water for? What are Ruby and her absent father, Otto? Where the heck was Otto, anyway? And I wanted answers. DROUGHT kept me guessing throughout the entire novel. There were so many turns and events I didn’t expect, that I was fully engaged throughout the book, zipping through the pages so I could find out what was going to happen next and how it would end.
Ruby is a great character. Even though she grew up in this sheltered, cult-like atmosphere, she’s still so open and willing to put herself out there. Like with Ford, the young (and cute) new Overseer. Even though everyone warns her away, she’s drawn to him because he’s so different than all the other Overseers. He hates the way the people of the community are treated—and he’s not there by choice, either. I enjoyed watching their relationship develop, especially because Ford is Ruby’s first real introduction to the world beyond the woods. Ruby’s desire to leave and need to stay are almost palpable.
I really enjoy Pam Bachorz’s writing, her amazing skill at world-building, and her well-drawn characters. She snagged my attention with her first novel, CANDOR and completely reengaged it with DROUGHT. Her novels are such unique takes on dystopian worlds you can’t help but be sucked in. Creative, absorbing and shocking, DROUGHT will leave you thirsting for more (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). I hope there will be a sequel but I couldn’t find any info one way or the other.

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