Friday, June 10, 2011

DROUGHT by Pam Bachorz

Water is precious. Water has made slaves out of Ruby's people. While the rest of the world lives normally, Ruby and the people in what is referred to as the Congregation, spend their days gathering water.

Although there is a small lake nearby, the members of the Congregation are forced to seek water in the forest. Each one armed with simple tools, a spoon and a cup, they struggle in the oppressive heat to collect water drip by tiny drip. They are forced by the Overseers, lead by a tyrant named Darwin, to gather their daily quota. Failure to meet their quota earns them a beating.

Members of the Congregation are unique. Ruby, for instance, is two hundred years old, but she doesn't look a day older than seventeen. Blessed from birth with some special power in her blood, she is destined to be the group's leader, perhaps sooner than she even expects.

The Congregants follow a mysterious leader they call Otto. According to her mother, Otto is Ruby's father. He left before she was even born, and now the group works tirelessly and waits for his return and the hope that he will set them free. But the wait is taking its toll on the members. Some are losing faith and arguments between them threaten to weaken the group. Also, secrets known to only a few could either save them or cause a rebellion.

Most evenings Ruby visits the huge cisterns that store the gathered water until the Visitor comes to collect from the containers. The purpose of her nightly visits is to add drops of her own blood to the water creating a life-sustaining element to the liquid. Like her father, she possesses the power that has allowed her people to carry on for centuries.

During one visit to the cisterns, Ruby meets an Overseer named Ford. He treats her kindly, and a friendship begins to form. Soon Ruby finds herself thinking about Ford all the time and watching for him as she collects her quota every day. He may represent her chance for freedom, or her destruction if he reveals the mysterious power of her blood.

Pam Bachorz is the author of CANDOR, another unusual dystopian YA novel. DROUGHT presents the secret world of a group still living in the past but working to provide for the world of the future. Bachorz takes her readers into the life of Ruby and her people to illustrate the unreasonable and frightening control one group of people can hold over another.

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