Review: “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi

water knifeThe Water Knife
Paolo Bacigalupi
Knopf, 2015.

This book is fucking terrifying.

Not in the scary monster, Stephen King, evil clown sort of way. No, Paolo Bacigalupi’s latest dystopian thriller, his first adult novel since the multiple award-winning The Windup Girl, is terrifying because it feels plausible.

Set in a future where drought has turned much of the Southwest into a wasteland, The Water Knife follows a water war between Las Vegas and Phoenix.

On one side is Angel Velasquez, a “water knife” – a sort of fixer for Las Vegas. On the other is Lucy Monroe, an investigative journalist in Phoenix.

Both are tracking a mysterious set of water rights that could transform the balance of power between the utopian Vegas and the crumbling Phoenix. In between is the scrappy Texan Maria, who is trying to survive and find a way out of Phoenix.

It is a harrowing, often brutal look at the consequences of extreme drought and our inaction that feels like Chinatown meets Mad Max.

It’s also the best book I’ve read this year. Read my full review at “The Nameless Zine”.

And check out my interview with Bacigalupi here.

—Michael Senft

Buy The Water Knife.

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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4 Responses to Review: “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi

  1. Jeanne says:

    I love the kind of satire that feels plausible. This feels so implausible to me emotionally, although I understand it intellectually. Where I live, though, it rains almost every day and we worry a lot about flooding.


  2. digitaltempest says:

    The more good reviews I hear about this book, the further up my TBR pile it goes.


  3. Loved this book, and agree, it is terrifying and brutal.


  4. Pingback: Tough Traveling — Extreme Weather | Relentless Reading (And Writing About It!)

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