Aquifer is a place where water is rare. The Deliverer has to go below ground to negotiate with Rats that harvest water in order to bring any above ground to the town. This job has been passed down from father to son for as long as Luca can remember. His father has been training him since he was young to take over the position. The only problem is that Luca sees things a little differently than those around him. In a world where there is no emotion or creativity, Luca feels something. Then his father goes missing and Luca must go below to fetch water. While on his quest, he begins to uncover and question the life that he has always known.
This month I've read two stories that have dealt with water shortage. Is this a pattern? While Aquifer takes a much different view than Not a Drop to Drink, they both have very similar "Does as told, save the water" type feelings. Both are also dystopians (my favorite genre). Aquifer is reminiscent of The Giver, a book that I have taught several times. The town is free of all creativity. There is no art or literature. Emotions are nonexistent, much like the pill that has to be taken in The Giver to tap down any urges. Positions are passed down along with all of the memories that are tied to those positions. Unfortunately, Friesen did not draw me in like Lowry does. It took me awhile to get into the world that Luca live in. Part of this was I needed a little more of a set up then I was given. I feel like I needed the world building to be front loaded in this novel instead of working through it a little before everything began to make sense. Because of this, I didn't bond with Luca. That's what kept me from loving this book. Without the tie to the character, I just wasn't completely sucked in. This is a book that I may try to read again in a little while now that I have ll of the background knowledge and see if a spark happens to pull me in further. Altogether, it's a good novel, much like one that I love, but is just not ringing for me right now.
Luca is minding his business one day considering his role as the Deliverers son when he comes across a group of neighbors lined up to be executed. Luca is displeased to see so many people receiving injustice, but then he notices something hes never seen before. Theres a child among them and he is unable to stand by doing nothing. Luca makes a decision to help this child escape, but in doing so he unleashes a chain of events that lead to his destiny.
Luca has a huge responsibility on his hands, as he becomes 16 in the story he will be the next Deliverer which means bringing water to his people on the seventh day of the seventh month. Its a trade that is necessary for his people to survive, light rods for the Rat people in exchange for a yearly supply of water from the Purifier. This is the burden he carries throughout the story and it haunts him knowing that the world relies on him successfully making this trade with an uncivilized people. Luca reminded me of John Connor from The Terminator, someone who knows the future is uncertain yet if he doesnt do his part then there will be chaos and destruction to his people.
I had trouble connecting with this story for the first 100 pages, it just didnt grab me like I thought it would. Then the action really picks up and I needed to know how things transpired. It was also weird reading this because I have lots of Zephyrhills bottled water in my house and Im reading a book where drinking water is scarce. The language in the story also was an adjustment, I wasnt able to follow it at the beginning.
Australya, Other, Her (a girl), debriefing, undone, Toppers, Amongus (corrupt police/Watchers), an Eleven (a child), an explosion of light (a bomb), etc. Books are forbidden, there is no art, peace is enforced and there are no strong emotions allowed. Causing a wrinkle is breaking the law or making trouble, which the people avoid because consequences are carried out fiercely and quickly.
My favorite character is Seward, a pirate who helps Luca. He is both clever and sneaky, hes also the comic relief in the story. I felt like he was one of the few adults in the book who risks his life to protect Luca and only cares about Lucas best interest. Seward is not afraid of Amongus and hes good at tricking them.
Wren is the museum director with her own secrets. She also helps Luca and has no fear of the government. She inspires Luca and teaches him to read. I see her as a classy lady with spunk and wisdom beyond her role as a museum worker.
Then theres Etria, a mysterious character who welcomes Luca to a new world. He has his own secrets and is he a friend or foe? Is he trustworthy or does he have his own agenda to carry out? Will he help Luca find answers or will he create more problems on Lucas journey?
Luca discovers his journey is filled with danger, that he CANNOT TRUST ANYONE, that he cant turn back, that theres a strange voice guiding his steps but will not respond when Luca asks questions, that the burden of leading his people is one he cannot escape, that he will not rest until he finds his father and that his destiny will cause death but it will bring order to a world that becomes undone. There is violence, death, and dead bodies in this story but it creates a sadness in the reader instead of horror. Aquifer is also very unpredictable, just when I believed I knew who the bad guy was and who was the good guy (or vice versa), there were more twists that changed the characters around. The sea is another character to be reckoned with and one that Luca feels at home with. The heaviness and despair is tangible in Aquifer, but there is also the hope of a young man who will bring true peace and freedom to both worlds.
I want to thank Zondervans Z Street Team for the ARC copy I received. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. This book is part of the new YA imprint, Blink.