The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

In the American Southwest, states and cities battle each other for pieces of the Colorado River. In this realistic possible future “water knifes” are the black ops who make sure sumptuous “arcologies” can bloom in the desert, so the rich can drink while the poor get dust.

I loved the concept and the realism with which Bacigalupi paints this world is frightening. Some of his writing is powerfully prescient. “If I could put my finger on the moment we genuinely f**ked ourselves, it was the moment we decided that data was something you could use words like believe or disbelieve around.” It is hard not to read this line without thinking of our current state of affairs.

However, this realism also hurts the book somewhat. This is a tale of a broken world with very broken characters who think little of stabbing each other in the back to stay alive. “Some people had to bleed so other people could drink. Simple as that.” I get it, but it doesn’t make for very sympathetic characters. In the end I found it hard to root for any of them.

So I liked the book, but definitely had mixed feelings.