Friday, September 12, 2014

In a Handful of Dust A Compelling and Worthy Sequel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for In a Handful of Dust, it may inadvertently expose plot surprises from its predecessor, Not a Drop to Drink.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Even though Lynn has learned the value of trusting other people, the 26-year-old is still watchful, still cautious.  Unlike Lynn, Lucy—who is now 16—has grown up in a close community, surrounded by friends.  She knows little about vigilance or surviving in the world beyond their small village.  But, when a deadly disease strikes, killing almost everyone in its path, that's exactly what Lucy must do.  Led by the unyielding Lynn, she leaves behind the people she loves, including the boy she hoped to marry, for the promise of a "normal" life in far away California.

There are a lot of miles between Ohio and the Pacific Ocean, all of them fraught with danger.  It's not just the threat of wildlife or human violence that threatens them, but all the mundane problems as well—hunger, thirst, blisters, sunburns, injuries, squabbles, etc.  Although Lucy pines for her lost love, both women are determined to reach safety on the West Coast.  No matter what it takes to get there—and it will take everything they have.  And more.

One of the reasons I liked Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis' debut novel, so much is that it offered an original take on a familiar story.  That, combined with compelling characters, vivid prose and tight plotting made it stand out from all the other YA dystopians out there.  With its sequel, In a Handful of Dust (available September 23, 2014), the story bends in a more generic The Road-type direction.  Still, McGinnis knows how to keep things from getting too stale.  With the bleak, spare style that defined Not a Drop to Drink, she continues to develop the relationship between Lynn and Lucy while hurling enough obstacles in their way to keep their journey exciting.  Although I liked the first novel better, In a Handful of Dust is still a compelling and worthy sequel.  Overall, I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis; The Road by Cormac McCarthy)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder invectives), violence/gore, sexual innuendo and references to rape

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-galley of In a Handful of Dust from the generous folks at Harper Collins via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!

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