The Water Knife

The Water Knife
Paolo Bacigalupi

This book was, frankly, an awful experience – but I think that may have been the point. I will admit straightaway that, had this not been my book club’s selection for this month, I likely wouldn’t have finished it, as I was more than halfway through before I gave a damn about what happened to any of the characters. Even then, it was more of a passing interest than an emotional investment.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Bacigalupi, is a fine writer, and his novel, The Water Knife, is very well written. The characters are distinct; the dialogue is solid, and he successfully built an immersive world that draws the reader into the dismal, dry future of the American Southwest. The problem? I don’t want to be there. I didn’t want to spend one minute there, let alone the 8-ish hours that I spent trudging through the Arizona desert’s dehydrated, uncomfortable future.

Am I sorry that I read this? Not at all. The gears in my head are turning and I’m thinking a little bit more about my own water usage as well as the entire humans versus the environment debate. We may well find ourselves facing a future like the one grimly portrayed in these pages, and that would be a sad future indeed.

The fact remains that I did not enjoy this book, and it is highly unlikely that I’ll read it again. However, I would recommend it, particularly if you enjoy dystopian fiction or if you need a kick in the gut to remind you of the value of water.