THIRST by Benjamin Warner imagines life in a suburban community after a strange event destroys all water in nearby rivers and reservoirs. Uncleared traffic accidents and the power going out create an immediate sense of isolation and hardship. Eddie Gardner and his wife bunker down and negotiate how much they need to help themselves versus others in the community, believing help is on the way. Any day now, the power will return and they will have water again.
What follows is an interesting apocalyptic story whose idea meshes originally into the genre, though the story overall didn’t stand out for me. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t make a heavy emotional impression like the best apocalyptic books do. Warner captures the steadily mounting isolation, tension, and hardship of thirst well. In his book, he provides an interesting meditation on what people will do to survive. However, the characters often grate with their decisions until at times they seem to be actively working against their best self interest, and they don’t consider many sources of water such as car radiators. While a nice meditation on survival, nothing really struck me as poignant or original in a genre packed with such meditations (note I’ve read so much of this genre I’m a bit jaded). The narrative becomes increasingly unreliable due to Eddie steadily going mad with thirst, which effectively portrays his suffering, though at times it was confusing for this reader. The ending concludes well but may leave some readers unsatisfied, as the source of the water being eliminated isn’t explained (nor the power going out or all the accidents).
I liked the novel and recommend it to apocalyptic fiction fans looking for an original premise as well as newcomers to the genre. Warner writes well and I hope to read more of him in the future. While I enjoyed THIRST, however, it didn’t deliver the gut punches (nor the action) I like to see in apocalyptic fiction.