In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis Review

Monday, 18 May 2015
In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink #2), by Mindy McGinnis
Publication: September 23, 2014, by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Adventure
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.
Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.
When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.
In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

My Thoughts: 

To this date, I remember and recall McGinnis’s Not a Drop to Drink as electrifying and a serious bold read. It brought tears in my eyes, especially since it was an overall touching read because of the global warming slash dystopian aspects that hit readers all throughout. It isn’t your typical read where the city is messed up but stocked with electronics that people today would die for to have. No. It’s taken place in nature, with the loss of water and the essentials that people even then will need as much as we do today. In a Handful of Dust brought those memories back to me, and I’m very satisfied with the whole ending.

“‘I wish I could be more like you,” Lucy said. “Not let stuff get to me so much.” Lynn snapped the barrel of her gun back together and looked at Lucy over the fire. “Don’t ever wish to be like me, little one. It’s not who you are. And it ain’t easy.” “I didn’t mean–“ “You being like me would be like the sun wishing it was the moon. That’s not good for anybody.”

This was a flashback into the future. Although it was surely difficult to try to remember who was who in the story and all of the plot holes that were laying in my head, McGinnis did a fabulous job of helping us remember. It’s TEN YEARS INTO THE FUTURE. It was a read that gave readers the answer. You know how you finish your favourite series and still begin to wonder what’s happening to them later on in their lives? This was the answer for us all. You can call it: the final ending, the duology’s answer and a key to real dystopia. All of those nicknames fit this book.

This mostly takes place in the POV of Lucy, Lynn’s adoptive daughter. She’s 17 now, and recalls that life has never been easy for her. The flashbacks of her mother’s sudden death still haunt her to this day, and Lynn’s been trying to help her out and help her not remember. From the first page, a new issue is dismissed into their lives—sudden disease and the pond’s contamination. Now, everyone has to move to California, where things seem better. Get ready for some serious drama and sadness involved.

High expectations, high expectations. This book has a 4.00 rating on Goodreads, and those are rare to find, so I knew that this one would be better than the first, which was already completely satisfying and heart-breaking all at the same time. I may have been a little wrong and upset after I read half of the book and found that it didn’t carry as much magic as the first book did.(Comparisons always come to me when it’s a sequel in a series, just saying.) I wanted more out of this—perhaps a stronger leading character and more to the story. This seemed like a story that was forced to be written because it had to be, not something that flowed into readers’ hearts. Get what I’m saying?

“People could be lost. People could leave. People could be taken from her. This idea had taken root in her childish mind and delved deep, sending dark thoughts that made her clutch more tightly to Lynn with her heart. Though she would wander far, there was never a time when she opened the door of their home without a sharp stab of fear: What if Lynn wasn’t there?”

The emotion was real: the longing and the sadness of the characters’ hearts and their love for one another. Most futuristic apocalyptic novels don’t have that longing kind of thing when they really need to show that emotion to convey that their lives suck and they need someone to help them out. And this doesn’t have to be a boyfriend-girlfriend kind of relationship, especially since Lynn’s and Lucy’s was mother-daughter, and they weren’t even related at all. It was utterly captured that this was something unique and left us in despair of what’s yet to come in our world. I’ll just tell you that the themes were superbly important here.

McGinnis’ writing never gets old. I flip page after page, and I just see such a rare writing style that makes the novel seem so simplistic in a good way. It’s not 100% captivating, but it’s enjoyable to see how everything forms together. I just want to hug the words, for goodness’ sake.

As for the characters… *thinks deeply* huh. If I was left in a room with them for 24 hours, we would’ve argued, probably. I just don’t understand the decisions and the way they try to solve a problem. They’re stuck in the worst possible situation of their time, and they’re sitting there watching the sunset, laughing. Obviously readers want to see some kind of happiness or else this would’ve been a true depressing read, but I believed that it went too far. Lynn’s too laid-back, much too laid-back that it doesn’t make sense for this novel, and Lucy is just plain annoying. O_O

I don’t really feel like going in full depth, but Lucy was the worst out of the whole clan. And I’m surely not the first person to have ever mentioned this aspect before. I’ve seen other reviews, and we all have the same complaints. If she was more intelligent and witty for her age, then maybe readers wouldn’t have seen an immature childish picture of her in our minds. Isn’t she supposed to be 17, like her mom was in the first book? I’ll tell you that there was a huge difference in both of their characters, and now it really shows. Maybe the author was hinting something at us all along?

What came to me in a shocking time was there was a minimum of romance. WOOT. Finally we have a post-apocalyptic novel where the main character doesn’t need a man by her side to keep her happy and standing on her feet. BAM. I mean, there were hints of it, but the novel surely wasn’t focused on the garbage that we call instalove or whatever. *winks*

This was enjoyable, don't get me wrong. I adored the themes, concept and just about everything except for the characters and plot. If 50 pages were taken out of the book, I think it would've ended up with a much-more stunning finale than I now picture. Maybe it would've lived up to my expectations... or even higher than that. But, hey. If you adored the first novel and are so curious and are willing to pick this up, then just go for it, because it definitely wasn't a waste of time if you ask me. LET'S CLAP FOR DYSTOPIA, EVERYONE.

Have you ever read a dystopia having to do with the more nature aspect of things?


  1. I hadn't heard of this author and while I don't know if I'll ever read this I'll definitely take a look at Not A Drop To Drink. To be honest I'm not a huge fan of sequels to books that don't really need sequels (as in, when an author writes a book and then for no reason writes another book, except with the main characters' child as the protagonist. They've always seemed a little flat and uninteresting to me) and this one doesn't sound to great. I completely get your complaint about the characters and especially the way they sit and watch the sunset while laughing even though they're in an awful situation. This was one of my many problems with We All Looked Up. The characters know they're going to die in a few weeks but they seem totally fine about it, which IS NOT NATURAL! Anyway, sorry about ranting about We All Looked Up constantly, I just ... ugh ... I'm really not a fan. Anyway, I really enjoyed your review and I might check out Not A Drop To Drink if I get the chance.

    1. Yeah, you should go for the first one, Killian! Since it takes place in a whole different time range and all, I found it better and that this was just something extra and optional. I probably wouldn't have gone for it if I knew my reaction would be a 3 star rating. Yes, I agree with the no reason thing! LOL, this group of characters were honestly TOO cheerful and HAPPY in their situation of no water and all. Ugh. Haha, it's okay, now I know to stay away from it! :) Thank you so much!

  2. I WANT TO READ THIS SO BAD. I loved NADTD so so much...and it totally flawed me that it was for once not about creating a massive rebellion and having a love triangle. >.> So yes, I want to read this still and I'm uber excited! I'm sad it wasn't everything it could've been though...gah. Disappointing.

    1. OHH! Yeah, if you enjoyed it then I ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEND going for this one. Ah, it's okay! I mean, I'm still so excited for McGinnis' A Madness So Discreet! That one's ought to be fantastic! :D


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