Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review: The Water Knife

This is the second novel I've read by Paolo Bacigalupi I've read with the first being "The Windup Girl".  Unfortunately I should have taken my feelings from that first novel and remembered them more clearly before picking up this one.

We are once again in the near future, though this time it is the very near future instead of a hundred or more years away.  While in "The Windup Girl" we were concerned with rising oceans and the absence of oil, here we are concerned with a lack of water, competing water cartels in the desert Southwest and the breakup of the United States

In both cases Bacigalupi writes in a style more attuned with his young adult novels where he got his start.  The language and rhythm of the writing is juvenile and simple.  Cormac McCarthy this is not.

Nor is this William Gibson.  The novel is almost "cute" in its portrayal of its dystopian future.  We have all the queues we see in our daily life just drawn a bit farther out--shiny Teslas, Chinese investment in American real estate, Google Glass like devices, drought ridden California and the Southwest in general, mentions of well known brands like Camelback, REI, Aquafina, etc.  Its like Bacigalupi just threw a bunch of New York Times articles in a blender and put the resulting mush on the page.  He isn't creating much or providing much insight here, he's merely regurgitating what we already know.  And that's the difference between someone like Gibson and himself.

Gibson will create things out of his own mind that do not exist yet and show you a vision of the future you hadn't thought could exist.  Bacigalupi shows you a future that's already been predicted and that you know won't happen because the world just isn't that easy to forecast.

"The Water Knife" is a good novel if you don't want to think and just want to say "Yeah!  Right on!  I think we're going to hell too!"  Sorry but I need an author to show me something I don't already know.

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