Thirst by Jill Williamson
INTRODUCTION—THIRST BY JILL WILLIAMSON
I’ve read Williamson’s Safe Lands dystopian series, so I was eager to read this prequel. Thing is, even for those who have not read the earlier books, they will find this story gripping. It’s not a big book, so I gobbled it down pretty fast. Although the second in the YA duology follows up on Safe Lands story (the first in the trilogy is Captives, it’s easy to read this one as a stand alone if a reader prefers (here’s a Spec Faith review of that first in the series). Here’s the description of the book:
A waterborne disease has contaminated the world’s fresh water, decimating the human race. Seventeen-year-old Eli McShane and his friends flee the chaos and violence in Phoenix and journey north toward the rumored location of a safe water source. They add several to their number, including the mysterious Hannah, who is being hunted by a dangerous man. Desperation brings out the worst in many of the travelers, infecting even those closest to Eli. When division comes, will he be able to hold his group together or will each fall victim to their own thirst for survival?
Clearly the premise of the story is based on a speculative element, but in many ways it reads more like a contemporary, because the dystopian elements haven’t happened yet. These Thirst books present the story of the creation of the dystopian world. I find it intriguing, to say the least.
EXCERPT FROM THIRST BY JILL WILLIAMSON
Six days into our wilderness survival adventure in the La Plata Mountains of Colorado, Comet Pulon passed by the earth. We had no way of knowing that it had come much closer than expected, that it had forever changed our planet, and that it had left a killer among us. Oblivious, the twelve of us camped in a clearing, cheered as the bright yellow fireball soared overhead, roasted marshmallows, and toasted with canteens of water we had purified ourselves.
And as we celebrated in awe of nature’s majesty, the rest of the world began to die.
“First!” I jogged up the split-log steps of Deadwood Lodge and yanked on the antler door handle. It didn’t budge.
“This ain’t a race, boy.” Andy Reinhold clumped up the stairs behind me. “What? Is it locked? Shouldn’t be.” Our guide and the owner of wilderness was Adventures was a retired US Army Ranger who had become the quintessential mountain man. His hair and beard were so bushy that his eyes, nose, and cheeks were pretty much all you could see of his face.
I cupped my hand against the glass window on the slab door and peered inside. “The lobby is dark.” I shrugged off my pack and let it gall to the planked porch. My shoulders loved the weightless freedom. The twelve-day extreme survival training camp had been awesome, but I was ready to go home.
Reinhold stepped past me and tugged on the handle. “No biggie. I got a key stashed over here.”
While Reinhold approached the aspen tree on the side of the building, I turned back to the yard. The dirt parking lot held five vehicles: Reinhold’s rusty Ford pickup, Mark’s Impala, Anônia’s Prius, and Rigg’s fancy new Range Rover Evoque. No sign of my dad. Bummer. Our group had left our campsite at dawn. I checked my watch. It was now 9:40 a.m. We were a bit late, if anything, so Dad should be here by now.
If we left soon, we’d be home in time for dinner. Mom, knowing we’d be eating vegan meals all this time, had promised to grill steaks tonight. I honestly hadn’t minded the camping food, but I missed me some meat.
Across the grassy clearing, Riggs trudged out of the forest with Jaylee, followed closely by Kimama, Reinhold’s eleven-year-old daughter. Jaylee’s reddish-brown pigtails swung as she walked. She laughed at something Riggs said. The sound carried all the way to where I stood and gnawed at my stomach. Stupid Riggs, anyway. When Wayne had gotten sick, Riggs had jumped in at the last minute to be our “male leader,” but the dude was only two years older than most of us.
Squeaking hinges diverted my attention from Riggs and Jaylee. Reinhold stepped inside the lodge. I followed. In the lobby, a strong, fishy odor hung on the air.
I wrinkled my nose. “Smells like Chipeta’s been eating salmon.”
Reinhold inhaled deeply. “Don’t know what that smell is, but it ain’t salmon.” He flipped the light switch. Nothing happened. “Power’s out.” He walked to the front desk and snatched up a sheet of paper. He squinted, tilted the paper toward the light from the open front door. His eyes flicked back and forth as he read, eyebrows scrunched. He grunted and his hands fell to his side, the paper crumpling in one fist.
“What’s it say?” I asked.
“Chipeta’s home sick.”
“Must be bad to keep Chipeta home.” Reinhold’s wife, a Ute native, could have led any wilderness adventure on her own. She was one tough lady.
“I’ll give her a call.” Reinhold walked behind the desk and picked up the cordless phone, put it to his ear, then slammed it back in the charger. “Cursed technology. God a corded phone in my office.” He strode down the hallway, his boots clumping on the hardwood floor.
I went back out to the porch, expecting to see Jaylee and Riggs, but Kimama sat alone on the bottom step. I sank down beside her and stretched out my legs. My hiking boots were dusty from the Colorado mountain trails. “How you doing, Kimama?”
“I just like to give them a moment, you know?” Kimama looked at me and smirked. “It has been twelve days.”
Only a kid like Kimama would think of something like that and not be weirded out. “No worries. Your mom’s not in there. She left a note that said she’s home sick.”
Kimama frowned. “Mama doesn’t get sick.”
AUTHOR BIO—JILL WILLIAMSON
Jill Williamson writes fantasy and science fiction for teens and adults. She grew up in Alaska, staying up and reading by the summer daylight that wouldn’t go away. This led to a love of books and writing, and her debut novel, By Darkness Hid, won several awards and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. She loves giving writing workshops and blogs for teen writers at www.GoTeenWriters.com, which has been named as one of Writer’s Digest‘s “101 Best Websites for Writers.” She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.
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