I just finished reading the book H2O, written by Virginia Bergin published through Sourcebooks Fire. Personally, I love the idea of the water killing people. It’s poison. It’s fatal. I’m definitely an end-of-the-world lover, and my two favorite things are the science behind it, and then how the people rebuild the society. That’s why I pick books like this.
This book explores a 15-year-old girl’s descent into apocalyptic-survival-mode in an unknown world. She is faced with personal doubt over searching the homes of her dead neighbors, what to do with their starving pets, and being seen with a… nerd! (Cue startling music.) This story gives the reader a chance to see how a world of nearly-everything-is-unknown-except-that-the-water-is-EVIL looks to a teenage girl who thinks she knows EVERYTHING.
The main character Ruby is your stereotypical teenager: she parties, she kisses hot guys; she doesn’t get along with her step dad; she wants to wear lots of make-up and dye her hair and look sexy. She’s not the smartest girl or sweetest girl, not the most well equip to survive on her own, so her step-dad Simon tells her to THINK. Why? Because the water is poison; its fatal, and that’s about all anyone really NEEDS to know at this point. She isn’t the most agreeable main character, and at times, that hinders the story.
At points, I can hardly understand how she feels the drive to still look good, like applying spray tan and dying her hair, constantly redoing her make-up and looting for fabulous sequined dresses. Personally, I love to glam up, but if other things are happening (like I’m running late or rain might literally melt my face off) I’ll leave the beauty products behind. At times, I found Ruby relatable, while other times I wanted to smack her for constantly being such a snob. She looked at everyone with a label; they were lame, a nerd, a punk, HOT; but at the same time, I understand it’s difficult to change your shitty popular-mean-girl mindset in a week’s time.
The pets, oh lordie, the PETS. My husband and I play around with the idea of the zombie apocalypse A LOT. (Even before it was cool.) One of the most heartbreaking things to think about is my pets being left behind to fend for themselves. Our soon-to-be house is half a block from a grain elevator, and with that territory comes cats, and cats, and more cats. If my two kitties got out of the house, I think they’d learn from the ferals. My dogs though. I don’t know, I’ve got an Australian shepherd and an Italian greyhound, and beyond them, I find it difficult to picture dogs surviving on their own. I know it happens, of course, but my brain is sheltering me. I could never imagine them eating anything but dog kibble (and table scraps. shh.) or sleeping anywhere else but in my heated blanket. How Ruby handled the many abandoned (that’s not the right word, exactly) pets really struck a chord with me; it was the most relatable thing about her. In the event of dystopia where pets are still pet-like, I’d be all over saving every one.
One of my favorite things to do while I read this story (use the internet while you still can!) was look up the references. What did the cloud names really look like, beyond her description? My husband is a meteorologist-wanna-be so I knew what some of the clouds were beforehand, and now when he points them out while we’re outside, I’ll get shivers down my spine. I popped onto my music app and listened to the songs Ruby mentioned; Top Of The World by the Carpenters wasn’t as good as I was hoping it’d be. It really helped me experience exactly what she had to go through in the moment.
Something unique to this book – at least I personally haven’t seen it before – was Ruby/Virginia Bergin used a symbol (a cute butterfly) in placement of swear words. I don’t mind dirty language, as long as it makes sense and isn’t vulgarly thrown into every scene, and found the butterfly kind of a fun game. My mind filled in the symbol with different words, sometimes what was most likely meant to be there, and sometimes I got a little creative.
This story helps bring to light the love/hate we feel towards people, and how sometimes we need to get over ourselves because love often conquers; It’s not all about us. Sometimes when people help, it’s not about you, it’s for someone else who loved you and keeping that person’s memory alive. It’s the same for Ruby – you love/hate her, but in the close you end up rooting for her to make it out.
Obviously the ending was set up to lead into another book, but nonetheless it was a good ending. Full circle. Most books in a series give you crap cliff hangers so “you’ll have to pick up the next ASAP,” but sometimes that sucks in more than one way: if an author cannot give you a good ending to a book, how can you expect to get a good ending to an ENITRE SERIES?! Virginia Bergin definitely set up a great ending, leaving me wanting more while also giving me enough to remain satisfied until I can get back to the bookstore.
I walk away from the closed pages of this book with chapped lips, four empty water bottles, and a paranoia to cook with water from the tap. I would recommend it to people who like dystopia YA with a warning to be patient with the main character Ruby, because overall it was a good read. I have hope for the next book, and even more hope that Ruby will change her attitude so she can realize survival isn’t about looking sexy.