In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis, Book #2 in the Not a Drop to Drink series. Read my review of Book #1, Not a Drop to Drink, here. Source: Epic Reads giveaway. Format: ARC, Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2014.
In a Handful of Dust was released just a little more than a week ago. It is the companion novel to Not a Drop to Drink, which I previously reviewed on the blog, and the lovely team at EpicReads selected me as a winner of an ARC of In a Handful of Dust. This sequel is set ten years after the events of Not a Drop to Drink, and it follows Lynn and Lucy as they trek across the country in search of a safer place to live.
When comparing it to Mindy McGinnis’s first book, I’m not sure which one I prefer. I think I liked Drink a bit better, simply because I liked the teenage Lynn more than the teenage Lucy. Also, Lynn and Lucy are the entire focus of Dust; I missed the interaction of other nicer characters, like Stebbs, from Drink. All but one of the new characters introduced in Dust are despicable in their own ways, and because this is a journey story, Lynn and Lucy don’t spend much time in any one place with any particular people. I normally like journey books, where the characters literally travel from point A to point B with lots of (crazy dangerous) events along the way. But the trek from Ohio to California for Lynn and Lucy in this book was very tedious at some points.
I give props to Mindy McGinnis, though, for making this book realistically grim. The rather downer of an ending that Drink had was refreshing because it didn’t end on a happy note with everything resolved. Dust throws some pretty bad situations at Lynn and Lucy. I honestly wasn’t sure if McGinnis would be bold enough to kill off one of the girls in this book. I like that amount of uncertainty in books; it’s so rare to actually fear for the protagonists and not be able to predict what comes next. I never knew if Lynn or Lucy would actually make it all the way to their final destination or if one or both of them would die on the way. The ending, though, felt a bit rushed and too-good-to-be-true–although it does open the door for another book.
In terms of characters, I wasn’t a huge fan of Lynn and Lucy in Dust. Adult Lynn was so hard to love. She seemed even harsher than before and I was a little put-off by her unwavering distrust and her obsession with her gun. She was the big gorilla in the room, though–she was definitely more memorable than Lucy. And Lucy I wasn’t a huge fan of, though I could at least sympathize with her. Lucy is softer than Lynn and can’t handle an isolated, ruthless life simply because she’s never had to truly fend for herself. Lucy never felt as fleshed to me as Lynn did in Drink, but I did see Lucy grow and adapt as the story went on.
Plot-wise, Dust doesn’t have any straight trajectory besides things happening every so often during the journey. The book is really just a survival story that is very character-driven, just like Drink was. Which is a good thing, in a way, because so many books are plot-based. Mindy McGinnis writes books about people and their struggles. It’s refreshing and a nice change, if I do say so.
Overall, In a Handful of Dust was an interesting, different read about survival and hope. Humans are a resilient people, and this indirect sequel is a great portrayal of how determined we can be and how loyal we are and how far we could be willing to go just to make sure we and our loved ones can survive. If you’re looking for a grim dystopian survival journey featuring kick-ass heroines, In a Handful of Dust fits that description exactly. It’s a good book worth reading. I’m sure many people will love this book. I am not one of those lovers, but I can appreciate it and am glad I got the chance to read it. ♦
*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affects my review; all opinions are my own. Thank you, Epic Reads!