Review: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Review: The Water Knife by Paolo BacigalupiThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
Published by Knopf Doubleday on May 26th 2015
ISBN: 9780385352871
Genres: Dystopia
Pages: 381
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher


Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times best-selling author of The Windup Girl and National Book Award finalist, delivers a near-future thriller that casts new light on how we live today—and what may be in store for us tomorrow.

The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river all for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel “cuts” water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky.

As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out for Angel, Lucy, and Maria, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands. But 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.

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Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


drey’s thoughts:

The southwest is drying up, and water scarcity has brought out the worst in human behavior. Rising to the top are those who can make the deals and scoop up water for their private, exclusive, gated arcologies where those who can afford to – or are skilled enough, lucky enough, or important enough – don’t have to live like the “riffraff” displaced by the loss of water.

Angel Velasquez works for one such dealmaker, enforcing her will whilst treading the fine line of legality. Sent to Phoenix to investigate a rumor, Angel quickly finds that there’s always more than meets the eye, as he’s quickly buried in secrets, bodies, and betrayal. What else can one expect, really, when lives – and fortunes – are on the line?

The Water Knife is scary in how real it seems, especially with the news coverage of the drought out west and the more affluent California neighborhoods refusing to ration their water usage. There’s a prescience about The Water Knife, and it doesn’t bode well for the survival of the human race. At least, not for those without money. I think I’ll stay here in the Midwest, and maybe invest my retirement savings in a fortress by the Great Lakes.

drey’s rating: Excellent!

Have you read The Water Knife? What did you think?


Check out this audio clip of The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, narrated by Almarie Guerra!

About Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in WIRED Magazine, High Country News,, OnEarth Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for three Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story of the year.

His latest novel for adults THE WATER KNIFE, a near-future thriller about climate change and drought in the southwestern United States.

He currently lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is working on a new novel.


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