Book Review

Book Review: The Water Knife

The Water Knife
By Paolo Bacigalupi

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 384 pages (hardcover)
2015, Knopf
ISBN: 9780385352871 (hardcover)
Expected publication date: May 26, 2015

I received this book for free from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.

From Amazon: The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands.  

I fell in love with Bacigalupi’s work after the first book of his I read, Ship Breaker. After reading both his YA works and his adult ones, I have to say I prefer the YA, though that’s not to say I feel his other works, or this one, is bad.

The Water Knife was more violent and graphic than anything else by Bacigalupi and I wasn’t anticipating that, but I wasn’t offended, just a little surprised. The plot took a little while to hook me – the setup was slow, and while I wasn’t bored, the world-building just seemed to go on too long. But then the action started and I couldn’t stop reading. When I had to interrupt my reading for life (blah!) I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next.

Angel and Lucy had a few overly cliché moments, but overall I liked both their characters. Maria, I could take or leave. The slang and terminology Bacigalupi created for this world was easy to grasp and while it was foreign to me, it felt natural. I also really love the cover design. The ending left me a little unfulfilled, but perhaps he will write more in this world in the future.

While I didn’t love this book as much as I loved his others, I still really enjoyed it and would recommend it for those looking for a realistic dystopian view of the future.

*cover image from Penguin

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