Water rights on the Colorado River have been debated and negotiated for almost 100 years and the existing agreements are actually rather complex. The southwestern US, arid by nature, is completely dependent on water from the Colorado River which originates from the north. Upper Basin States are bound by "The Law of the River" to let the water flow south to support the needs of California, Nevada, and Arizona. So what happens when the climate changes and the available water is only a fraction of what is needed for all involved? Well, you find yourself in the dusty, apocalyptic setting of the Water Knife where law and lawlessness exist in equal measure within the southwestern US.
Due to a lack of water many southwestern cities have gone dry and the constitution is modified to no longer guarantee safe travel between the states. States borders are closed to limit population growth and patrolled by state military and local militia. The federal government sits back and lets the individual states handle border disagreements on their own but they loom as an ever present threat should any state go too far in their dealings with their neighbors.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a bully of an organization with a private army willing to do whatever is necessary to gain control of as many water rights as possible. These rights are being used to build sustainable "arcologies" for the wealthy that keep Las Vegas alive and profitable. With California more than able to protect itself from Nevada, the SNWA turns its military and legal might against Arizona. Phoenix is just about out of water and has become a hell hole of poverty where lawlessness has the upper hand. #phoenixdownthetubes documents the slow death of the local population for the rest of the world to see online and there is little hope of a better future.
Paolo Baciagalupi inserts a cast of interesting characters into this setting and Almarie Guerra brings them to life with an excellent narration. Her reading of the story kept me interested from beginning to end and the characters felt like real people in an all too possible apocalypse. I was intrigued enough by the story to do a little extra reading on "The Law of the River" to improve my understanding of how the water rights of this region have been handled over the years and that made the scenario all the more plausible.
So if you like apocalyptic fiction and are up for something different from the standard fare of zombies, epidemics, and nuclear war then you have come to the right place.
30 of 33 people found this review helpful
I loved this book! I couldn't guess how it would end and I couldn't stop listening until I found out.
The story is standard-for-the genre explorations of good vs evil, idealism vs realism, perceived vs real power, and the human drive to survive at any cost, but each of the characters grew more relatable throughout. Some even surprised me with not-so-standard for the genre explorations of how much the power players really know and control.
Re the narration:
On the one hand, I share the complaints of other listeners re the narrator's mis-pronunciation of common English words. Each time, the fact that the decimated word might be found on a middle school vocabulary test is more distracting than the mis-pronunciation itself. Where were the producers?!
On the other hand, I liked the narration. A lot. Ms. Guerra does a fine job with both male and female voices and I had no problem moving from character to character. In my opinion, the reader captured the tone of the novel and the voice of each character. Were it not for the pronunciation errors scattered throughout, it would be a near-flawless reading. And I listen to A LOT of audiobooks with a A LOT of narrators, from great to awful and everything in between.
Use a credit and get this book!
22 of 25 people found this review helpful
The storyline is a great idea, water will likely be the next crisis, but the author just could not pull it off. I know other people seem to like him but I just didn't enjoy his writing at all. The narrator certainly did not do a believable or accurate chollo or cholla accent. I am a retired army officer and native Texan living in a border town working at a county hospital so profanity, gore, violence does not bother me but this was senseless and disgusting sensationalism. All in all just a poorly done book. Sad to say I believed the Audible reviews and they lied to me AGAIN!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
(My favorite quote from the book.) This was the first book of Bacigalupi's that I've read, and I think it's going to stick with me for a long time. At least for now—having just finished it—I feel like it has simultaneously renewed and destroyed my faith in mankind. Disaster inspires the most selfless acts of kindness in some people, and the worst kind of avarice in others. The key players struggle with which kind of person they're going to be. Bacigalupi tells the story in stark reality.
With the southwestern US currently suffering from a megadrought, this story could hit terribly close to home for the people who live there, and I almost want to caution them not to read it, because it could give them nightmares. I would also caution anyone sensitive to violence. But if you want to think deeply about some of the potential consequences of climate change and untangle a web of corporate and governmental lies and deceit at the same time, this is the book for you.
26 of 30 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
A much better performance. I love books and audiobooks are a great way for me to "read" while I exercise. Unfortunately, my mind kept on wandering because the performance was so poor.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
I couldn't even get through the book to get to the ending because of the performance. Too bad because the story description really had me excited.
What didn’t you like about Almarie Guerra’s performance?
The voices didn't really change. It was fairly monotone.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Paolo Bacigalupi and/or Almarie Guerra?
I might try another book by Bacigalupi But the Narrator seemed intent on destroying the book. Not only did every Male charecter have an eerily similar mexican "chollo" accent but distinguishing the charecter was near impossible while Almarie Guerra was reading. I literally stopped my audio book after several hours and bought the hard copy to finish.
Would you recommend The Water Knife to your friends? Why or why not?
I would recomend the waterknife hard copy to maybe a couple of my friends but I would warn everyone to steer clear of the audio book or just Almerie Guerra in general
Would you be willing to try another one of Almarie Guerra’s performances?
No, I cannot express how much of a distaste her performance has given me for steering clear of any of her other pieces
Was The Water Knife worth the listening time?
The story, yes it would have been if i had been able to contine listening to the butchered performance
Any additional comments?
This is a well written book performed by someone who cannot do different voices for charecters making it hard to follow. And I would truly recomend just buying the hard copy of this book and staying away from the audio version.
17 of 20 people found this review helpful