The Water Knife

The Water Knife

Book - 2015 | First edition. --
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Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times -Bestselling author and National Book Award Finalist, dives once again onto our uncertain future with his first thriller for adults since his multi-award winning debut phenomenon The Windup Girl .  

In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, detective, leg-breaker, assassin and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel "cuts" water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet, while the poor get nothing but dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with no love for Vegas and every reason to hate Angel, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas refugee who survives by her wits and street smarts in a city that despises everything that she represents.  With bodies piling up, bullets flying, and Phoenix teetering on collapse, it seems like California is making a power play to monopolize the life-giving flow of a river. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other's hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink. 
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2015.
Edition: First edition. --
ISBN: 9780385352871
Characteristics: 371 pages ; 25 cm.


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Jun 22, 2019

Just reading Where The Water Goes was enough knowledge to make me a water-hoarder and fear for the future generations. This read makes it all too clear what is in store.

Jan 18, 2019

Outside my genre comfort zone.

Jul 09, 2018

There's books that when finish them, you put them down and hold yourself in the moment, hoping to savor the feeling for just a moment longer. The Water Knife is not one of them. The terrifying near-future it portrays in grim detail is someplace to escape as soon as possible. Calling this a horror novel would not be far from the mark. Bacigalupi's language is like a scalpel, cutting a thousand precise slices into humanity. Even more than his solid effort to examine the human consequences of environmental destruction in The Windup Girl, here Bacigalupi conjures a vision of the Southwest that feels just moments away. A few sections that deal with character relationships fall flat, but he writes at his best when he shows just what people will do to survive the unsurvivable. A content warning: There's some detailed depiction of torture, in case that's an issue for readers. For my money though, the most stomach-turning part of the book was how factual and urgent it all feels.

Jun 28, 2018

I found this book difficult to get into. It has an interesting plot but I found that I couldn't get used to the characters.

SCL_Justin Sep 07, 2017

The Water Knife takes the classic cinematic cyberpunk image of a rain-soaked Los Angeles and tells a Blade Runnerish story in the climatechange-stricken American Southwest. It has that cyberpunk feel but is focused less on whiz-bang computers than on how people try to get by in the margins of a society devastated by drought and storms. The character-work is fine and the plot moves along nicely, but the real star of this book is the all too possible future it depicts.

Aug 24, 2017

The southwestern United States in a near future where the aquifers dry out before the population can adapt, and an ongoing drought paired with temperatures too warm for mountain snow dry up most of the rivers. States collapse as they lose their fresh water sources, and mass evacuations force surviving states to enact laws restricting interstate travel. Foreign corporations from countries which planned for the worldwide drought develop Arcologies, enclosed cities with complex biological water recycling systems. These cities begin appearing around the southwest, and become island oases that the outside population will do anything to live in. The states essentially become countries and those who leave dry states become refugees. Water rights become something that states and corporations are willing to fight and kill for. In the middle of this, the fates of a corporate mercenary, a refugee from the dead state of Texas, and do-good reporter will cross paths over a water rights contract that that will determine the future of the southwest.

Bacigalupi's speculative future world building is amazing, but his storytelling surpasses it. Water Knife has a lot of neo noir elements to it, and it was difficult not to compare it to blade runner in the way the plot and mysteries move forward. There are subtle hints that it takes place earlier than Bacigalupi's Windup Girl. If you read his short story anthology, Pump Six, it becomes more clear. If you like dystopic futures or dark, brooding mysteries, you'll love the Water Knife.

Megan_PNW Mar 31, 2017

A bleak book that challenges us to consider what happens when something we take for granted becomes scarce. The plot is a little slow to start but ramps up into quite the page-turner!

Feb 16, 2017

I liked it. I got a couple of friends who retired to AZ to read it. The report they'll never look at running water the same again.

Dec 06, 2016

In our current reality where California has experienced serious drought the last five years, where forces of ignorance, cynicism, and division are ascendant in the world, where the chasm between rich and poor grows ever wider, and where efforts to stave off anthropogenic climate change seem woefully inadequate, "The Water Knife" hits brutally close to home. The story unfolds in the southwest United States in a dystopian near-future where water scarcity has led to the collapse of major cities, mass migration of refugees, closed state borders patrolled by militias and drones, and barely concealed low-intensity warfare over the control of water rights. An excellent if depressing read. Definitely felt thirsty afterwards!

JohnK_KCMO Dec 05, 2016

I have a terrifying suspicion that future generations will consider this book prophetic, as we today view Orwell's "1984" and Huxley's "Brave New World". Bacigalupi presents a dystopia that grows too neatly from our present-day reality.

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ArapahoeJennieB Aug 01, 2016

ArapahoeJennieB thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Dec 22, 2015

black_bear_515 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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