Book Review: IN A HANDFUL OF DUST by Mindy McGinnis

Posted 11/11/2014 by alicemarvels in Dystopian
In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis review




Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Page Count: 384


powerful, spare writing; strong character development


McGinnis knows how to punch you in the feels

A powerfully written return to the harrowing world from Not a Drop to Drink.

Mindy McGinnis has again impressed with her spare, powerful writing in In a Handful of Dust, the companion novel to Not a Drop to Drink. The world is the same, a future America bereft of clean water, and we catch up with Lynn, who has grown up from a gun-wielding, take-no-prisoners teen to a gun-wielding, slightly less take-no-prisoners-but-still-badass adult. Lucy, her surrogate daughter, is now a teenager herself, going through first love and making sense of the world around her, which quickly goes from a comfortable cloistered settlement near Lynn’s pond to the entire expanse of the American West.

Due to disease and tragedy, Lucy and Lynn are forced to flee, and they seek out the siren call of California, where desalinization plants are rumored to exist in cities that run much like they did before the water shortage got out of control.

Lynn is as compelling as ever, a tough, hardened frontier woman who would be equally at home on a homestead in Little House on the Prairie, or in the forests of District 12 in The Hunger Games. Lynn has grown up with violence, and expects it at every turn of their journey, while Lucy brings a softer, more trusting approach to their travels. I wish I could say Lynn was being overcautious, but the people Lucy and Lynn run into prove Lynn’s hardened attitude is absolutely correct. Lucy is forced to toughen up, and she encounters emotional and physical challenges beyond her wildest dreams.

McGinnis held back nothing in the first book, breaking my heart more than once, and though I was prepared for the worst in this book, I still found plot developments that shocked me and made my heart hurt. Her skill at creating this waterless world you both despise but wholly believe in results in a compelling, tense reading experience. In a Handful of Dust may leave you wishing for deux ex machinas to pop in and make everything better, but you’ll be glad the story is realistic and unsentimental—it’s a very powerful story. I hope we get to revisit Lynn and Lucy’s world in the future as there are some minor story threads I’d love to see played out to their end. I highly recommend both Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust to readers who like powerful writing, well-drawn characters, and a fearless approach to storytelling.

Read an excerpt.
Watch the trailer:



    Ah but McGinnis knowing how to punch you where it hurts is not necessarily a negative thing. 🙂 Why can’t I get into these books?!


    This really was fabulous and I loved all the surprises and heartache as well.


    I’m still working up the courage to tackle this series. I have a few reading deal breakers and Not A Drop to Drink has one of them which is why I’ve put it off for so long. I need to suck it up though, because I think I’d really love these books! Glad this was a winner for you:)


    “Her skill at creating this waterless world you both despise but wholly believe in results in a compelling, tense reading experience.” I really need to get to these books! Heartache and feels I can do, I just need to be in the right mood to soak it all up. Wonderful review 🙂


    I need to read this series Lauren, and I love your review. I have book one. I hope to add it in soon


    Any book that has “knows how to punch you in the feels” as a con is a book for me 😉 Although I may regret saying that because the ending of the first book killed me and it sounds like this one has the same shock value. Love that it’s so good with so few faults though!


    I was totally surprised by Not a Drop last year but had completely forgotten about the sequel, so thank you for the reminder, I’m so glad it’s GOOD!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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