Vera and her brother Will live with their family sometime in the future. North America has had the borders redrawn. There are eight republics in what used to be the US and the evil Empire of Canada to the north. What this world lacks is clean drinking water. Indeed, the hopsital will not treat you if you drink tap water - it is considered a self inflicted injury. When Vera meets Kai he is standing in the middle of the road upending a cup of clean water. She is shocked but intrigued. How could he possibly waste water? They become friends, bordering on the romantic. When Kai and his father disappear, Vera and Will set out to find and rescue them.
Along the way they encounter water pirates, good guys, bad guys, get wounded, keep going and save their world.
I almost felt like Stracher had laid out plot ideas on a whiteboard and connected the dots as he wrote. The characters were never really developed. I found it hard to believe the siblings would run off after someone they barely knew, leaving their sick mother behind. The relationship between Kai and Vera is never developed enough to believe she would chase after him. Their budding romance needed fleshing out. Some of the situations they landed in defied plausibility. The King of the water pirates was an excellent character, one that was fleshed out and that I did really enjoy.
Stracher has chosen a current and very possible reality for his novel. The idea of a world without clean water is a distinct reality. This novel would prompt discussion of water conservation.
Now, maybe it's just that I don't read and review a lot of YA or that I am looking for a more adult novel in the wrong place. Maybe it's because I listened to The Hunger Games and Matched and found they came alive when narrated. But...The Water Wars just didn't live up to my expectations. The cover blurb "A rousing adventure story in the tradition of The Hunger Games" just didn't deliver. I am sure that a younger reader would find the non stop action appealing.