Natural World Reflections Book Reviews


The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Vintage
Published: May 26, 2015
Print Length: 386 pages
ISBN: 978-0385352895
ebook available (1931 KB)
ASIN: B00NRQOR26
Language: English

Review by: L. G. Cullens on Aug. 13, 2017

This is a rip-snorting, base human behavior suspense thriller, with a tenuous, frayed and sullied thread of magnanimity that will keep you turning pages.

The blurb reads:

“In the near future, the Colorado River has dwindled to a trickle. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel Velasquez “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, ensuring that its lush arcology developments can bloom in Las Vegas. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with her own agenda, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north. As bodies begin to pile up, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger and more corrupt than they could have imagined, and when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.”

You’ll find the author indeed delivers an engrossing story that’s suspenseful to the very end, served up with accomplished writing skills. That includes an absence of distracting details that don’t move the story along. Even if you think you’ve found such, you’ll discover their importance further on.

Another of the author’s skills is hooking the reader into a new dilemma, before resolving the last.

If you read carefully, you might even notice the author’s insights into the human condition, as per example:

“Not all epic quests ended in success. Instead, paranoid and greedy people made stupid mistakes. People died and hurt each other and struggled, and in the end everyone came up dry.

...

Phoenix made people crazy, he decided. Sometimes it turned people into devils so bad they weren’t recognizable as human. And other times it turned them into goddamn saints.”

We all care about different things, making the distinctions more perspectives. It’s our own inward focus that drives us, there’s no right or wrong in reality, only consequences.

There are pressing observations in this book to give serious thought to, but you can begin by just enjoying a great story.