Thirst by Benjamin Warner (2016)

Chesapeake Watershed Satellite image

A satellite image of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the waterways at the center of the novel Thirst.

This outstanding debut novel begins on a ordinary summer afternoon — with our main character Eddie sitting in traffic — and in just a few short pages unravels into a tense dystopian thriller. Upon realizing that the traffic jam’s root cause is something more serious than a car accident, Eddie abandons his car and begins the head home on foot. What he sees as he makes his way is deeply unsettling: cars piled up with no rescue crews in site; armed men guarding gas stations; creek and river beds scorched dry; and no cell service or power anywhere.

Eddie finds his neighborhood largely peaceful when he arrives home, its residents only slightly inconvenienced by the power outages, slightly more so when they learn that the water is off as well. Hours pass with no sign of repair trucks and not so much as a radio broadcast informing residents of the cause of the outages and the traffic. Slowly at first, but then we greater and greater intensity Eddie and his wife Laura see their neighbors becoming unhinged — looting grocery stores, arming themselves against one another, and hoarding supplies, particularly water.

Days pass with no relief and Eddie and Laura are forced to take stock of their supplies and begin to seriously worry that their lack of preparedness might be fatal. The thirstier they grow, the more erratic and violent they — and their neighbors — become.

As the conditions the characters face deteriorate, Warner’s writing beautiful mirrors the rising hysteria and the delirium caused by their thirst; the words he writes of become jumbled and mirage-like, highlighting just how unstable the situation, and the people in it, have become. The overall effect is as terrifying as it is entertaining.

Thirst is an excellent novel that I finished in just a few hours because I could not put it down and one which I highly recommend everyone read.

cheaspeake bay bridge

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is featured in the novel’s culminating scene.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s