Saturday 22 August 2015

Review - "The Water Knife" by Paolo Bacigalupi

I can see why so many people rate The Water Knife. It's a very smartly drawn vision of our catastrophic near future.

Global warming has lead to drought and dust storms in America's south-west, where cities have legal battles over river rights and the losers dry and die. Droves of Texan refugees are heading north, where the local border patrols are waiting to shoot them down.

The "water knife" of the title is Angel, a soldier/spy/assassin for the water company which represents the interests of Las Vegas. He physically cuts the pipelines to other cities, leaving them to chaos and ruin so his own might survive.

It's a brilliant concept.

And yet The Water Knife lost me.

About a third of the way through, I found myself putting the book aside for a week, wondering if I cared enough to keep reading. There was no character I could relate to and the story seemed to be muddling around and getting nowhere.

I flicked forward past halfway and found the action had accelerated, so I skimmed the pages in between - just enough to get a handle on the plot - and continued on from there. I found myself really enjoying the last third.

So this book has some sterling qualities. It is a piece of true science fiction, taking a logical line from the now into a very believable future. The world that Paolo Bacigalupi has created is vivid and frightening.

And when the story eventually comes together, it's gripping and action packed.

But you have to work past the lull in the middle to get there.

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