cover image Thirst


Benjamin Warner. Bloomsbury, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63286-215-0

Warner's debut novel is the story of a young married couple, Eddie and Laura Chapman, and their fight for survival after a mysterious power outage and the sudden, inexplicable absence of drinkable water. Eddie is caught in traffic when the disaster strikes; he decides to abandon his car and run the rest of the distance home. He encounters an unexpectedly dry streambed along the way, the first sign that something has gone terribly wrong, and when he finally makes it home, the full extent of the dire situation becomes clear. He's reunited with Laura and a few other neighbors who decide to wait for help instead of heading into the city. They all slowly succumb to a desperate thirst that threatens to unravel them both mentally and physically. The fight for water becomes increasingly desperate, and neighbors battle over resources with disastrous consequences. With a tight focus and a steadily increasing tension, the novel explores the limits of what we would give up of our humanity in order to survive. Warner achieves a chillingly claustrophobic atmosphere in which everything in the outside world becomes a threat. But in a market overflowing with post-apocalyptic stories, the novel never achieves the originality that it promises at the beginning, and the specific cause of the disaster remains frustratingly oblique. (Apr.)