Published by Egmont USA on January 25th 2011
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?
I thought this was quite a unique book. It's about an almost cult-like community that worships this man named Otto, who happens to be the father of Ruby. He abandoned them to the cruelty of Darwin West, who uses them to harvest Water, which helps to cure wounds and make people live longer. That being said, it was hard to wrap my head around what was going on at first. There's little history and what is there is spread well throughout the length of the novel. I left the book with a lot of questions and no answers but my imagination. I'd like to see a prequel or sequel to this novel and see where it goes. I'm not sure I would call it dystopian exactly either. The government isn't oppressing these people, it's one man and I have no clue how he's gotten away with it for so long besides the hiring of muscle and not revealing their secret.
The novel is well written I just want my questions answered – especially why Otto is praised as this God to these people, he is a man, just one with special powers, special blood. I want to know how he found them, how they came to worship him – is he worthy of the worship or was he manipulating these people? See, tons of questions. I guess I enjoyed it quite a bit to want so much more from it.
Ruby definitely comes from a different world and when she starts to fall for a boy who is from the modern world, you really see the stark differences between them. She's quite willful and definitely a good example of a defiant teenager.
I'm not sure how I feel about Ford. There's some alluding to him being a bit of a player towards the end of the novel and I'm not sure he's really the support that Ruby can depend on if she were to leave her family and community. He's just a teen himself really (maybe early 20s) and doesn't really seem to understand what is going on at first and I'm not sure he really ever gets it completely. But I know Ruby feels a lot towards him so I can't see him in a totally negative light.
Final Verdict: I think of this book a little bit like The Village. Also Drought reminded me a bit of Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, one of my favorite novels in middle school. It's not quite dystopian, at least not hardcore dystopian. I think those looking for something a little different will enjoy this book.