Plot: Wood’s tale of corporate greed spans multiple countries. Readers will be drawn in by his complex, all-too-real picture of a future dystopia.
Prose/Style: Intricate prose and atmospheric writing pull the reader into Wood's believable and exciting tale.
Originality: Although the idea of water privatization has been tackled before in fiction, Wood gives readers a sense of the global impact of this burgeoning crisis by setting his story both in South Africa and America.
Character Development/Execution: Wood’s tale is gripping; he creates a believable dystopian universe habited by the beleaguered, realistic characters of Graham, Liz, and Art.
Blurb: This unflinching look at the Earth's possible future is a hard, but necessary read.
Date Submitted: June 01, 2021
Wood’s dystopian portrait is not without its rough edges. Despite the first-person narration, the characters’ inner thoughts are constant and can include confusing expository passages. Readers will find some story lines rushed, such as that leading up to Lizette’s outburst in church, and the antagonists are typical: powerful people hell-bent on hoarding all the water they can. But within the rough patches, there’s a diamond in Wood’s writing.
The worldbuilding is fully fleshed out with technology, consequence, and history; a direct line can be drawn from the present day to Wood’s imagined future (via, for example, “the Make America Great wall,” the “new Pence administration,” a “Black Lives Still Matter” poster). Atop the plausible political and corporate machinations are elements more fantastical (such as sentient AI, which in one captivating case has been given the form of a dragon to represent the Chinese water protection god Bok Kai) and spiritual. The book’s relationships are abundantly complex and it does not offer simplistic, easy happy endings. Wood’s dystopian creation, with its warning about global warming, makes for an emotional and satisfying ride.
Takeaway: Fans of plausible sci-fi with a political bent, eager to envision a very near future, will connect with this dystopian environmental novel.
Great for fans of: Omar El Akkad’s American War, Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B+
...Together, they speak to unification beyond borders. The message is an important one, albeit not always pleasant to digest.
Well-considered social SF—an engrossing, foreboding, and uncomfortable offering.