In a Handful of Dust - Mindy McGinnis

In this companion to Mandy McGinnis's Not a Drop to Drink, readers follow Lucy and Lynn (the protagonist of the first novel), as they leave their home in the wake of a severe polio epidemic that is overwhelming their already devastated community. Set in a futuristic frontier where everyone is fighting to survive in a world with very little fresh water, and almost no surviving cities since various diseases have begun to consume the surviving members of humanity. This companion piece takes place approximately ten years after the end of the first novel.

What I love about In a Handful of Dust is similar to Not a Drop to Drink. McGinnis's writing is subdued and meandering, a style that perfectly suits the overall atmosphere of the text. Lynn and Lucy are friends, but at the same time, Lynn feels incredibly protective and motherly toward Lucy. As they escape their disease-ridden home and venture toward the West to find a new home, Lucy and Lynn meet up with another woman on the run, Joss. And following behind them is Carter. In this book, as opposed to the last book, there is much more journeying and adventure. Whereas the first novel saw Lynn trying to protect her home, staying stationary for the majority of the novel, the sequel sees a turn to the epic journey trope.

McGinnis's style is accessible, and while slow to some, her writing is engrossing. I'm not entirely sure what it is about it that makes me feel both disturbed and comforted at the same time. She truly has a way with words. Character development is solid, and the setting is terrifically immersive. I can't help but feel that the world in the novel is real and terrifying, perhaps because it's a world that I could actually imagine based on current environmental and social trends. 

While I know some will find Lucy slightly less desirable as a protagonist in comparison to Lynn, the concentration on a new main character is admirable and way to keep the book fresh so that it doesn't fall into a typical "trilogy" feeling, like so many other series out there today.

In a Handful of Dust is a brilliant companion to McGinnis's first novel and deserves attention and in-depth consideration from fans of Not a Drop to Drink.

Highly Recommended

(Note: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out September 23, 2014)


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