Review: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

WaterKnifePublished by: Orbit
ISBN: 0356501744
ISBN 13: 9780356501741
Published: May 2015
Pages: 365
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

Bacigalupi is back. Generally, his books are the kind of thing you either enjoy or you don’t – yet I find I’m somehow in the middle where some of his books I adore, and some just don’t manage to hold my attention. This however was a winner, with lines such as ‘Some people had to bleed so other people could drink. Simple as that.’

This book deals with drought, generally one of my favourite topics. I’m from a region of Australia everyone expects to be the driest, yet it’s not like we’ve ever had to deal with water restrictions like the rest of the country, and when it rains here, it does us good for the whole year. Another book that deal exceedingly well with drought-related plots are Glenda Larke’s Watergivers trilogy.

This one is set in America, where the Southwest has been ravaged by drought. States are fighting over who will take control of the Colorado River and big players are taking cuts for their employers. This is a book of strong female characters as Angel, Lucy and Maria meet and become entangled in each others lives, as bodies start piling up around them.

Overall this is a good book for those who like gritty, realistic futuristic dystopian. This has a lot of action and is a fast read, especially at under 400 pages. This also doesn’t have a strong message behind it, like a lot of Ben Elton’s eco-centric books did, to the point where – brilliant writing aside – you feel it’s being sledged at the back of your head repeatedly. This is more of a plausible ‘this is how it is’ piece of fiction that leaves the reader to make their own decisions.

In a year heavy with dystopian books, after a few years of heavy dystopian reading, this still manages to stand apart, do something new, and become recommended reading for those who aren’t yet sick of the genre.


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