Would you risk everything for someone you just met?
What if he had a secret worth killing for?
Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold......
Would you risk everything for someone you just met?
What if he had a secret worth killing for?
Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold...
Hundreds of millions of people have already died, and millions more will soon fall—victims of disease, hunger, and dehydration. It is a time of drought and war. The rivers have dried up, the polar caps have melted, and drinkable water is now in the hands of the powerful few. There are fines for wasting it and prison sentences for exceeding the quotas.
But Kai didn't seem to care about any of this. He stood in the open road drinking water from a plastic cup, then spilled the remaining drops into the dirt. He didn't go to school, and he traveled with armed guards. Kai claimed he knew a secret—something the government is keeping from us...
And then he was gone. Vanished in the middle of the night. Was he kidnapped? Did he flee? Is he alive or dead? There are no clues, only questions. And no one can guess the lengths to which they will go to keep him silent. We have to find him—and the truth—before it is too late for all of us.
"Let us pray that the world which Cameron Stracher has invented in The Water Wars is testament solely to his pure, wild, and brilliant imagination, and not his ability to see the future. I was parched just reading it." —Laurie David, Academy Award–winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth and author of The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming
"A gripping environmental thriller with a too-real message." — Howard Gordon, executive producer of 24 and author of Gideon's War
About the Author
Cameron StracherCameron Stracher is a writer and media lawyer. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He lives in Westport, CT, with his wife, two children, and two dogs, not necessarily in that order.
From Chapter 1
The year before he joined the Reclamation, when he was still seventeen, my brother Will set a new high score at the YouToo! booth at the gaming center....
From Chapter 1
The year before he joined the Reclamation, when he was still seventeen, my brother Will set a new high score at the YouToo! booth at the gaming center. It was a record that stood for many years, and there were plenty of people who thought it would never be broken, although eventually it was. But by then my brother didn't care; he had found more important things to do than waste his time playing games in which winning only meant you had to play again.
We lived then in a time of drought and war. The great empires had fallen and been divided. The land was parched and starved for moisture, and the men who lived on it fought for every drop. Outside, the wind howled like something wounded. Inside, our skin flaked, and our eyes stung and burned. Our tongues were like thick snakes asleep in dark graves.
That's why I'll never forget the first time I saw Kai. He was standing in the open road drinking a glass of water like it didn't matter—water from an old plastene cup. There could have been anything in that cup: bacteria or a virus or any of the other poisons they taught about at school. Men had dug so deep for water that salt had leached into the wells, and unnamed diseases lived in what remained. But Kai didn't seem to care. He drank his water like it was the simplest thing in the world. I knew it was water because when he was finished, he did something extraordinary: he flipped the cup upside down and spilled the last remaining drops into the dust.
"Hey!" I called out to him. "You can't do that!"
He looked at me like he didn't know I was the only other person on the deserted road. He was about the same age as Will. Both had that lanky boy body I had just begun to recognize: hip bones and wrists, flat bellies and torsos. But while Will and I were dark-haired and lean, Kai was blond, with skin that glowed in the morning sun. I felt an urge to run my fingertips over his smooth forearms, feel the strange softness against my ragged nails that I never let grow long enough to paint like other girls did.
"Who says I can't?" he asked.
Wasting water was illegal. There were fines, and even prison sentences, for exceeding the quotas. But this boy looked like he didn't care about any of that.
"You just can't," I said.
"That's something a shaker would say."
"Because it's true."
"How do you know?"
"I know—that's all. Look around. Do you see any water here?"
"There's plenty of water," said the boy.
"Yeah, in the ocean."
"Can't drink salt water," he said, as if I didn't know.
I looked down the dusty road. Not a sign of life anywhere—just the hills, scarred from ancient fires, and sand blowing around the empty lot where I waited. Not even a lizard or an insect moved.
Once there had been a row of stores at the edge of the lot, but now all that remained were the skeletons that scavengers hadn't sold for scrap. Torn insulation and loose wire dangled like innards from pitted aluminum struts. When the wind blew, they made a sound like mourning.
"Why don't you have your screen, anyway?" A new student should at least bring a notebook to his first day, I thought.
"I don't go to school."
"Are you a harvester?"
"My father says I don't have to go to school."
Everyone went to school, except for water harvesters' kids who chased the clouds across the sky. At least until you were eighteen—then you got jobs, or joined the army, or worked for the Water Authority Board, which was like staying in school for life.
"You're lucky," I said.
"School's not so bad."
I liked school, although I wouldn't admit it. I loved learning the details about shiny rocks, their hard, encrusted surfaces yielding clues about the minerals inside. I loved our field trips to the dams, where metal wheels as large as entire houses turned slowly in their silicon beds. Best of all, I loved deciphering the swirling purple patterns of thunderstorms and hurricanes, trying to predict where, on the brown-gray prairie, they would strike next.
"Did they take you out?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Didn't need to go anymore."
I peered down the road again. The bus was late. It was often late. Sometimes it didn't come at all, and I had to walk back to my building, where my father would unplug the old car and drive me to the school in town. Will was already there, a full hour earlier, because he had to empty the basins before the sun evaporated the small amount of water that collected as dew. Last year two other girls rode the bus with me, but one day they stopped coming and never returned. It was boring waiting alone. I welcomed the distraction.
"I've got a brother," I said. "He passed his army physical."
"He had to do fifty pushups."
"I can do a hundred."
The boy kneeled like he was going to start exercising right there in the dust. The place where he had spilled his cup was completely dry; I couldn't even tell it had been wet. I could see the elastic band of his underwear and the smooth skin where his back was exposed. No marks, scratches, or scabs of any kind. My own hands looked like some kind of treasure map, except the lines didn't lead to riches.
"I'm Vera," I said to his back.
"Kai," he said, standing up.
"Where did you get the water?"
"I've got lots of water."
"Are you rich?"
"I guess so."
"Should you be out alone?"
"Ha!" he snorted. "I'd like to see them try something."
It wasn't clear whom he was talking about, but I didn't think Kai—or any boy—could stand up well to the bandits and soldiers who menaced our town, no matter how many pushups he could do.
"Are you waiting for someone?" I asked.
"Going to a scavenge site. Want to come?"
"I've got school."
I said I would try, but I knew my father wouldn't let me. He didn't want me going anywhere after school—not with this boy, not with any boy. It was dangerous to hang around strangers. Just last year there had been a virus, and three children in our class had died. No one went to school for two weeks afterward, and Will and I played cards in his bedroom until we got so bored that we wanted to scream.
"We live in the Wellington Pavilion," Kai said, naming a fancy housing complex. "Meet me there this afternoon. I'll tell the guards."
"I have water team."
"After water team, then."
“The characters will reach readers, but it's the plot and action that will hold their attention as well as the descriptive writing that brings this bleak future world into the minds of t...
“The characters will reach readers, but it's the plot and action that will hold their attention as well as the descriptive writing that brings this bleak future world into the minds of those that pick up this book. Another good addition to those who love dystopian novels.” - YA Books and More
““Fast-paced, suspenseful and nicely developed...I would definitely read more by Stracher and perhaps more books from the dystopian genre too.” - Books and Literature for Teens” - Books and Literature for Teens
““Vera lives with her brother Will and her father in the Republic of Llinowa. This is in the future when water is more precious than silver and gold, and politics is all about water. Then one day Vera meets Kia, and he doesn't even seem to care about water at all. When Kia goes missing, her and Will go looking for him. During the journey they will encounter many obstacles and make many new friends. Will they discover Kia's secret and also a limitless supply of water?
"The Water Wars" is a futuristic book where the world has mostly dried out and water is the most expensive and precious thing of all. This is an outstanding novel by Cameron Stracher, unlike anything else I've read. It's quite unique and engrossing. I am eagerly awaiting Cameron Stracher's next novel.” - Night Owl Reviews
““The Water Wars is a thought-provoking dystopian thriller with a valuable message about the dangers of assuming that earth's resources are unlimited... With it's conservation message and ethical dilemmas, The Water Wars would provide interesting material for a middle school book report.” - Story Snoops” - Story Snoops
““I know a river,” says Kai. His words seem impossible yet tantalizing to Vera and her brother, Will, whose
mother is slowly dying for lack of clean water. Shaped by severe drought, their civilization is caught in a
power struggle among governments, and between governments and outsiders such as pirates and
environmentalists. When Kai is kidnapped, Will and Vera begin a David-and-Goliath rescue mission that
pits them and the allies they find against formidable, well-armed enemies. Set in a dismal future society,
this dystopian novel sets up a good premise... Once the plot gets in gear, the driving force is action... Readers
who enjoy the adventure may also find some social and ecological food for thought along the way.” - Booklist
“Heart Racing: If finishing The Hunger Games left a gaping hole in your life, Cameron Stracher’s Water Wars aims to fill it. Set in a dystopian future where a lack of water trumps all else, this adventure tale will keep you turning pages far into the night.” - Campus Circle Newspaper
“The action here will take your breath away, with chase scenes and double-crosses... Author Cameron Stracher’s dark novel is a page-turner and I was up way past my bedtime reading it. It’s easy to visualize the Armageddon-like landscape that Stracher describes, and it’s all-too-easy to imagine the futuristic scenario that makes water so precious.
Go without food for three weeks and you’ll lose a lot of weight. Go without water for three days and you’ll die... Don’t consider going without “The Water Wars” at all.” - Detroit Lakes Tribune
“Once you start reading The Water Wars, a simple glass of water becomes something special. The author has done a wonderful job of creating a bleak world, and he describes the dry, parched environment so well that I became thirsty just reading his words... The Water Wars is filled with nonstop action and it moves along at a breathless pace... The Water Wars is the kind of book I keep thinking about long after I’ve finished reading because it’s based on a realistic scenario. And even though it deals with environmental issues and greed, it never felt preachy. It would be a great book for parents and teens to read together and discuss.” - DaemonsBooks.com
Gr 7-10-In a futuristic world desperate for water, Vera and her older brother, Will, struggle to help their father eke out a meager living and care for their stricken mother. When Vera befriends Kai, a wealthy teen whose father is a wildcat water driller away for months at a time, he soon becomes a fixture at their home. After he fails to meet them one day, Vera and Will stumble upon evidence that he was abducted. Their search for their friend takes them far from their republic of Illinowa in what was the Midwestern United States through the republic of Minnesota and into Canada. Along the way, they are befriended by a band of pirates and taken hostage by a group of domestic terrorists. They eventually escape and track Kai and his father to Bluewater, the shadowy organization that has a monopoly on the water desalinization process and intends to exploit Kai's rare gift of divination. Stracher has created a realistic dystopian world ravaged by drought and taken from today's headlines as scientists warn of probable water shortages in the future. The fast-paced plot, nonstop action, and hopeful conclusion will appeal to teens... Intriguing, fleshed-out characters... complement Stracher's likable sibling protagonists.
““Preble artfully combines contemporary characters with classic figures from Russian mythology to create the second installment in this intriguing series… After reading Haunted, those who missed Dreaming Anastasia will likely want to go back to the first book in the series so that they can spend more time in Preble's multi-dimensional world.”– Kate Girard, RT” - RT
“This fast-paced dystopian story paints a compelling picture of a world devoid of an adequate drinking supply, caught between warring governments and special-interest corporations. The characters are colorful and interesting, and in some respects, the scenario is frighteningly plausible... It is a recommended read that will make readers consider their own wastefulness of this precious resource.” - VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
“Cameron Stracher provides a strong cautionary tale based on the premise that in the near future the liquid wars will focus on water and not oil.” - Midwest Book Review
“The thematic impact of The Water Wars was just as intense and disturbing, if not more so, than the Hunger Games novels. Readers of all ages should read this stark novel about greed and ignorance and apathy – a wonderful book to initiate discussions (in classrooms, between parents and their children, book clubs, etc.) about environmental stewardship and how the actions of one person can change the world for the better…” - Explorations: The Barnes & Noble SciFi & Fantasy Blog
“Brilliant and terrifying, Stracher's water-desperate world will make readers re-think letting the water run before a shower or while brushing their teeth. As Will and Vera criss-cross this world, it becomes evident that Stracher has truly considered all of the different outcomes that a water shortage would have on a society. Stracher has created a large cast of characters with enormous skill that has each person standing out from the rest.” - RT
“Teen readers looking for something as exciting as the Hunger Games will love Water Wars. Fast paced reading will entice reluctant readers to keep going to the end. Water Wars is an excellent addition to any YA collection, as well as a wonderful tie‐in to the young reader’s editions of An Inconvenient Truth and other nonfiction titles concerning the future of our planet.” - CATS Meow (Baker and Taylor Newsletter)
Even though the driving force for the actions against Kai, and the resulting actions of Vera and Will, are driven by the lack of water the story is about friendship, loyalty and hope. The resulting romance between Vera and Kai will appeal to the female readers and the pirates will appeal to the male readers. There is the best of both worlds in this one. I also think it has the potential for a larger reader age than just young reader. I have already recommended this to several people, including my 20 year old son. I will make it a staff pick for this coming quarter and make sure to hand sell whenever I can.
“Adult author Stracher (The Laws of Return) offers a bleak picture of the future in his first YA novel... It's clear that Stracher has put much thought into the effects of cataclysmic water shortages. His fast-paced, nonstop thriller doesn't hold back in its portrayal of a parched, desperate world. ” - Publishers Weekly
“In the tradition of THE HUNGER GAMES, Cameron Stracher’s WATER WARS is both a trenchant cautionary tale of a world drained of its most precious resource and a rousing adventure-story of the plucky young heroes who set out to save it. Perfect for young readers—but with more than enough substance for mom and dad as well.” - Justin Cronin, author of THE PASSAGE
“THE WATER WARS is a gripping environmental thriller with a too-real message. Cameron Stracher tells a story with quick pacing, compelling characters and a vision of a frightening future.” - Howard Gordon, Executive Producer, ’24,’ and author of Gideon’s War (forthcoming 2011)
“Let us pray that the world which Cameron Stracher has invented in THE WATER WARS is testament solely to his pure, wild, and brilliant imagination, and not his ability to see the future. I was parched just reading it.” - Laurie David, academy award winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth, and author of The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming
Length: 8.25 in
Width: 5.5 in
Weight: 14.88 oz
Page Count: 256 pages