Drought by Pam Bachorz

(Cover picture courtesy of Pam Bachorz’s website.)

Ruby dreams of escaping the Congregation. Escape from slaver Darwin West and his cruel Overseers. Escape from the backbreaking work of gathering Water. Escape from living as if it is still 1812, the year they were all enslaved.

When Ruby meets Ford–an irresistible, kind, forbidden new Overseer–she longs to run away with him to the modern world, where she could live a normal teenage live. Escape with Ford would be so simple.

But if Ruby leaves, her community is condemned to certain death. She, alone, possess the secret ingredient that makes the Water so special–her blood–and it’s the one thing that the Congregation cannot live without.

Drought is the haunting story of one community’s thirst for life, and the dangerous struggle of the only girl who can grant it.

In most books there is often a sentence or question that keeps coming up for me as I read them.  The recurring question for me in Drought was: “What is going on?”

Pam Bachorz raised so many questions in Drought, but very few of them were answered.  Who is Otto?  Why does his blood have magical properties?  Why hasn’t the Congregation escaped after 200 years of slavery?  Why did Otto leave?  Why haven’t any kids been born since the Congregation formed?  How did Darwin West enslave people like this?  And why is the Congregation completely in the dark about modern inventions when it’s 2012 in the story?  Surely Darwin wasn’t able to keep them completely isolated.

There are some pretty heavy religious undertones in the book, but they made no sense whatsoever.  The Congregation is much like a cult and Ford introduces Ruby, the main character, to the idea that they’re worshipping a false god (Otto), but I had no idea where Pam Bachorz was going with it.  As my English teacher frequently wrote on my essays, “So what?”  Why is religion discussed so much in Drought but never actually plays a believable role in the motivations of the characters?

Ruby, the protagonist, is decent enough I suppose.  Like in most YA novels, she is 200 years old but essentially acts like a teenager and falls in love with a teenager.  Okay, I get that the Congregation ages much more slowly than regular people, but really?  Even if you are treated like a child for 200 years, if you see the kind of violence Darwin West inflicts on your own mother, you’re going to grow up a lot faster than Ruby has.  Her ‘romance’ with Ford feels completely contrived.  It’s like the author didn’t know how to make readers truly connect with the characters; her writing doesn’t have that much emotion in it, to be truthful.

Drought had so much potential but ended up being a complete mess plot-wise and character-wise.  This is one of the few series I will not be continuing in the foreseeable future.

I give this book 1/5 stars.

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  1. Andy Szpuk

    A thorough analysis, Carrie, and I was intrigued to hear how your English essays were marked. It goes to show how so important it is for the message and the themes in a story to be developed and realized, so thanks for reminding us.

    • Carrie Slager

      Thank you! It was actually my history essays that got “So what?” because the teacher taught both subjects. My problem was I was giving facts, but not explaining my answers. I would just assume people would know.

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