26 June 2015

Review #256: The Dry by R.L. Nolen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” 

----Jim Morrison

R.L. Nolen, an American author, has penned an enticing as well as thrilling middle grade book, The Dry , which traces the journey of a 12-year old boy who embarks on a path to search for his newspaper journalist father who went missing after he went to look for the missing children, possibly involved in child slavery, in some dilapidated part of a strange and mysterious mine town.


West Virginia, 1895.
A deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn’t account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.

His quest leads Elliot into the depths of an abandoned mine, with a peculiar pocket watch, a blind burro, and a gutsy girl at his side. He discovers a world he never dreamed of, even in his worst nightmares, and lands smack in the middle of a war between two kingdoms. Monstrous insects, smiling villains, and dark riddles are everywhere. Deciding who to trust may prove to be his greatest challenge, while the fate of the world above hangs on Elliot's choice.

The book opens at a drought-affected land somewhere in West Virginia where a young boy, named, Elliot Sweeney, embarks upon a journey to find his missing father when his father's search rescue team called off their mission to find him. Soon Elliot meets a young girl named, Left, who too is looking for her missing brother, who worked in the col mines. On their way, they chances upon a scary rat-like looking ma, or rather say a rat man named, Mr. Nogard and a lost and forgotten world, Penumbra, separated by a Dry side and a Water side. But in the Dry side there is a dragon and ruled "The Wicked Prince of Every Place", named, Prince LeVane, a huge monster wasp, who hires children to work in his mines. And now it's Elliot's decision to take a brave step to go to the Queen of the Water, Tosia, and to help him rescue those helpless children.

Firstly, the story is absolutely mind-blowing and thoroughly engrossing enough for the readers to keep them hooked till the very last page. And since the author have included so many action-packed events that provides a fast pace to the book. The narrative is kept catchy and thoughtful and layered with emotions. The graphic detailing and vivid description of each events makes the story a complete page turner.

The backdrop of the story and especially the world building of Penumbra is very striking and excellently done with enough information for the readers to understand the hows and whys of this strange insect-filled and drought-affected land. The author sets her readers mood right into the very heart of the story by unraveling the strangeness of this dark, scary world moment-by-moment.

The characters from the main protagonist to the evil ones are all strongly developed masking them with flaws that can induce fear in her readers' minds. Elliot is an ever-growing character who grew out of his fear till the very last page and though he is a 12-year old boy, still his mind progresses like an adult and it is real easy for the readers to connect with his and his fear.

The wasps play a huge role in this book as each chapter begins with an important wasp fact that holds the key to the following events. And I believe, after reading this book and reaching that satisfying climax, the readers are bound to get some giant-wasp-filled-nightmares for a while.

The book deals a lot with trust issues, like on his way to find his father, Elliot meets a man named, Mr. Jack. In the begining he had trouble believing in his stories, so he runs away with his donkey and the author does a great job in building that misunderstood trust in his heart for Mr. Jack. The adrenaline-rushing moments and the action-packed events make the book one hell of an edgy roller-coaster ride.

Verdict: All YA lovers, especially dystopian fans, will highly appeal to this book.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Rebecca Nolen, for giving me an opportunity in reading her book, in return for an honest review. 

Author Info:
I live and work in Houston, TX. I am a Texan, so an occasional y'all slips out in conversation. I am an avid reader and must have stacks on my to-be-read shelves at all times. I am in a few book clubs and reading circles. I read suspense, British murder mysteries, YA, and children's books. I am asked often to write reviews, but I only do reviews for books that I could discuss with my saintly mother.
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