Reviews for Drought
Booklist Reviews 2010 December #2
For 200 years, Ruby and the Congregation have been enslaved by Darwin West and his Overseers, forced to harvest water for a mysterious Visitor. Brutally beaten and starved, they struggle through each year while waiting faithfully for their savior, Otto, to return and free them. Ruby's duty to the Congregation keeps her from running: they would die without her, because only her blood can give the water its healing and life-sustaining properties. When she meets Ford, a new Overseer also trapped in his role, they fall in love and long for a life free of crushing obligations. Ruby is as much a slave to the Congregation as they are to Darwin, and she is believably conflicted, desiring change without losing hope. Bachorz uses this dystopian premise to explore powerful themes of faith and loyalty, freedom and slavery, but the integral supernatural and world-building elements are not fully developed, raising a host of interesting questions that are never answered. The unrelenting bleakness and slow pacing will further limit the audience for this brooding, thought-provoking story. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Ruby alone has the power to sustain her community, the Congregation, as it waits for deliverance from oppression. But when she falls for Ford, an Overseer, she's torn between her loyalty and her forbidden love. An attention-grabbing premise, engaging characters, and a well-wrought dystopic setting help overcome some murky religious symbolism in the story. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 November #2
In this lengthy, imaginative science-fiction tale, a girl is driven to escape an isolated commune in upstate New York that's been frozen in time since 1812. Ruby actually is 200 years old, but she's only 17 in growth. She lives in a slave colony controlled by Darwin, its cruel master, and his brutal Overseers. She and the other Congregants gather Water, which can heal any wound or disease and stops aging. The Congregants lead an almost intolerable existence, enduring constant beatings and starvation while taking strength from their cult-like religion. Ruby needs to escape not only her slavery but also her mother's and the Congregants' hold on her. Bachorz paints the bleak colony in stark detail and writes especially vivid and interesting characters, but the story suffers from a certain sameness. She makes Ruby's grim world believable but so unremittingly desolate that readers may need relief nearly as much as the colony's inhabitants. An intriguing story with depth, but its success will depend on individual taste. (Science fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 November #2
Bachorz (Candor) again carves out a compelling niche in the dystopian genre, tackling issues of faith, perseverance, and obligation in this bleak tale of an isolated community enslaved by the past. For 200 years, Ruby and other members of the Congregation have toiled, collecting life-sustaining (and life-prolonging) Water under hellish conditions, kept in line by Overseers and forced to satisfy demanding quotas. Only a select few know that Ruby's blood, like that of her long-missing father, Otto, is the catalyst that turns ordinary water into Water, a secret they keep at all costs. While the Congregants patiently wait for Otto, their savior and founder, to return and lead them to freedom, Ruby believes it's time to escape and seek him out. In defiance of custom and wisdom, Ruby falls for Ford, an Overseer, further pushing her toward a fateful decision. Though some of the intrinsic supernatural elements aren't fully explained, the tension between the Christian aspects of Ruby's faith (life-saving blood, an absent and awaited savior) and Ford's contemporary Christianity results in a complex, provocative exploration of loyalty, community, family, and belief. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
VOYA Reviews 2011 February
Ruby has a decision to make about whether she wants to choose freedom from her two-hundred years of slavery in the woods of upstate New York or live enslaved to her mother and the religious cult where her blood secretly serves as the catalyst for healing and youth. At times monotonous, as is their situation, Bachorz (Candor, Egmont USA, 2009/VOYA October 2009) details the Congregation's survival on little food and their faith that Otto will save them as they endure floggings and emotional torment. While not unexpected, Ruby falls in love with an Overseer--Ford--whose presence reminds her of what she cannot have as the daughter of Otto and the Congregation's spiritual leader, Sula. Yet, in one brief and fantastical trip, Ruby tastes modern life literally and figuratively, then returns, finding herself cocooned by the Congregation's tough love through a series of tragic events that wrap up the story abruptly and with little suspense. Avid fans of dystopian science fiction will appreciate the juxtaposition of modern versus traditional, and love versus loyalty with unique characters and thought-provoking situations. So, with a bit of ambiguity about the Congregation's survival and their confinement hidden from contemporary view, readers are left to imagine the possibilities or a possible sequel.--Alicia Abdul 3Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.