Book Review: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

Dystopian fiction meets environmental cautionary tale in Cameron Stracher’s YA novel The Water Wars.

The book takes place in the not-so-distant future, in which water has become more precious than oil and the newly established countries of the world are engaged in on-going wars for control of what little drinkable water does remain.

Set against this backdrop, The Water Wars follows 15-year-old Vera and her older brother Will — as they set of to find their new and mysterious friend Kai, who disappears under suspicious circumstances. Along the way, they learn some harsh truths about their government and the world they live in — all while facing down pirates, a militaristic “environmental” group and a mega corporation.

Stracher really excels at writing the many action sequences that keep the story moving forward. The Water Wars is a very fast-paced book and that makes it easy to keep reading, in addition to giving you that “edge of your seat”/cinematic feeling. Fans of dystopian fiction will certainly enjoy that aspect of the story, as well.

However, the text can at times feel preachy. Stracher definitely has a message about the environment, and often times amidst the fiction, his mission is pretty obvious.

And while Stracher has done a solid job of world-building, character development could have used a bit more work. It felt as if Kai and Vera’s friendship needed a more solid development, and their romance almost seemed like an afterthought. I wanted it to be there, but the idea of their romantic relationship wasn’t present for most of the book. And at times, Vera seemed to act too young to even make it feel natural. She’s supposed to be 15, but she acts and carries herself with a naivety more befitting an 11- or 12-year-old. It doesn’t help that Kai is such a mysterious character at the get-go, that sometimes I wonder why he and Vera are friends. I wish there had been a more solid foundation to their connection.

Still, The Water Wars is filled with plenty of intense, fast-paced action that makes it easy to keep turning the pages. And Stracher’s past writing experience (this is his first YA book) shines through in his prose.

The Water Wars is in stores now.

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