Friday, May 24, 2024

Book Review: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi


This was my second attempt; the first time all the legal stuff seemed too complicated to bother with. This time, it was for a cli-fi book club, and once I got into it I found the characters quite compelling. Found myself thinking of them, especially Lucy, as some person I knew, which is always a good sign for characters! Climate fiction wise it was a realistic portrayal of a long-term drought in the American West and the political ramifications that might result. The border-control between states was something I haven't seen in other novels but seems believable. And I loved the irony of the Texans being the refugees, since there are so many Texans who perceive Mexicans to be less-than-human because of their status.

The themes I found are : what are people's true natures, and relatedly, how best should people survive. The juxtaposition of Angel and Lucy showed the two sides of these and I'd say the message came out on the side of: the best people will try to stick together and watch out for each other, but the reality is everyone can be broken. There are not good or bad people but instead there are circumstances. And when the circumstances are rough, you have to watch out for yourself (and your people) while trying your best to be fair and just.

From a writing persepctive, the characters' wants were clear and maintained all the way to the finale. Angel is loyal to Catherine Case because she rescued him and he admires her. Maria wants to know what the real deal is in order to save herself. Lucy is a little more complex: it is told that she wants to get a good story but the underlying want is to save the Zoners by telling their story.

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