Drop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A wonderful read that really surprised me. It's set-up with a science fiction premise, all plastics in the world are melting or breaking down (at random); but in actual fact the book is about the characters in a small town and how they cope with daily life as things around them stop working.
Easily the best part of this book is the characters. I loved or loved to hate them all. All the classic archetypes are here: the rich snob, the smart entrepreneur, the poor family with too many children, the cranky hermit, etc. And each of them is set-up and developed in such a way that you aren't bored or bogged down by too many details. Morgan Llwelyn does a wonderful job of introducing a lot of people without loosing the main plot/push of the story. I will say that near the beginning it's a bit overwhelming to meet so many characters but if you hang in there you will find that it's not so bad as the story progresses and each character starts to be defined further.
Near the beginning of Drop by Drop Llywelyn comments on how we (as a society) have allowed ourselves to become so reliant on technology and computers. Interestingly this is the second book in three months that I've read where the author specifically pointed this out. The concern of course being that if technology, the internet, satellites, or any sort of product that supports them breaks down (for whatever reason) then everything starts failing. From cars to information sharing to medical devices to refrigerators; we've put technology of some sort into everyday items that we cannot (reasonably) live without. This leaves us very vulnerable.
It's enough to make you really think about daily life as the plastics in Llywelyn's book start to break down. For example; did you know that most tires are no longer made of solely rubber? They have a synthetic (plastic) additive to make them cheaper these days. Did you know that most toilets aren't entirely ceramic? Or that your appliances have plastic/synthetic components in them? Once you really start to think it becomes apparent that almost everything would breakdown into nothing.
Conspiracy Theories & Communication Breakdowns
During Drop by Drop we learn that there is no explanation to the breakdown of synthetic items made of certain man-made components. We also start to see the ability to travel and pass information along become a barrier. Our small town setting quickly becomes isolated and reverts back to the 'old days' modes of communication. Including an eclectic, odd combination of town folks that get together every Wednesday night group. It's like an 1800's salon setting and is easily one of the moments in the book where you realize how important it is to have a variety of opinions and perspectives in your life.
I absolutely adore this book and cannot wait for the next one. There is a mini-cliffhanger to draw out into the second book; but certainly if you weren't intrigued by the breakdown of society near the end you could read this on it's own and still really enjoy it. I cannot wait to see more of the science, conspiracies and (most importantly) our characters coping with all the changes in the next book. Llywelyn may be known of her Celtic Irish novels but there is no doubt that she can write science fiction with the best of them. I hope Drop by Drop doesn't get put aside by sci-fi fans because she isn't a 'sci-fi writer' usually. It would be a shame for Drop by Drop to be missed out by those who will likely love it. I also believe that Drop by Drop is a great introduction into dystopian science fiction for those that prefer a character driven story. The science is really interesting but it's not the core of the story. Like I said before this is a story about people coping with extraordinary circumstances.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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