Water’s Edge by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 227 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2013.
Daniel Grear is a firm believer in climate change, and the detrimental effects that it is having on the earth, especially the weather. To make their lives better, he moves his small family into the Scottish countryside onto acreage, where they can try to become mostly self-sufficient. They raise animals, grow food and produce their own electricity, and collect rain-water in tanks. Nairne and her older brother Zane both help out with chores about the farm after school, and Nairne is showing an aptitude for machines and caring for the animals. Coping with wild weather, including storms, excessive rain and heavy snow falls makes life on the farm harder, but they are much better off than many. As things worsen, and sea levels rise dramatically, parts of the UK and Europe flood, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. With a massive influx of people from further south, Nairne convinces Daniel to take in a family of boarders, a city couple, Garrick and Pam, with their teenage son, Paul. They seem alright on the surface, but Nairne quickly becomes uneasy and distrustful, with her feelings exacerbated when a couple of Garrick’s colleague’s move in next door. As food and fuel sources dry up, and even basic supplies become unaffordable, the Grear’s farm with all of its resources becomes a very desirable location. Nairne soon learns that some people will go to extraordinary lengths to get what they want, and beware anyone that might get in their way.
This is the first book in the Troubled Times series by Rachel Meehan. It deals with the issues of climate change and global warming and themes of human nature, including survival and desperation. The effects of climate change that we have seen so far have drastically accelerated, the polar caps are melting at an alarming rate, raising sea levels and causing storms. There is drought, fires, floods and storms that are devastating vast sections of Earth. These events could really happen to our world if we, as a human race, continue to trash the environment and use reckless amounts of fossil fuels. The author has obviously put a great deal of effort into researching climate change science, and this comes through in the details of this story. She has also put a lot of thought into how people would react if such a widespread catastrophe were to occur. The desperation to survive at any cost is evident in the town, with arguments, looting, fights and thievery, and that’s just the average law abiding citizens! They just want to have enough food, shelter and water to survive. The ones that want to take advantage of the situation, like Garrick and his mates, are ruthless, and concerned with profit and power far more than with getting enough to make their own survival possible. I concur with how this scenario plays, survival, even at the cost of others is basic animal nature, and I think that is how most people would react if they became desperate. That there will be some prepared to take things further is almost inevitable, we hear everyday on the news about people that have done something abhorrent even in the best of times, without remorse or guilt. This could only be amplified in the disarray of a global catastrophe.
All of the characters in Water’s Edge were deeply developed and realistic. Through the story I felt like I really got to know Nairne. She is tough, headstrong and practical, a great female lead character. I admired her abilities about the farm, and her disregard for what others might think of her. At fourteen, she has much more weighing on her shoulders than most, yet she slogs forth with tenacity, honesty and integrity. She’s got a sharp tongue, a temper, and she can come across as a bit abrasive, but I really liked her. I liked Zane and Daniel too, though not as much as Nairne. Zane was a shy follower, who befriends Paul readily. Daniel was a lot like Nairne, though with more years under his belt to learn to control his emotions. In contrast, their new boarders, Garrick and Pam, were extremely different. It was evident from the start that Garrick was a bit off, and Pam seemed to be rather vacuous and incapable of independence. They were well written city characters trying to adjust, and take advantage of, country living. Their friend and colleague, Stevie, and his gang were horrible men, and I can still see Stevie’s evil grin as he hurts someone. The character that changed the most was Garrick’s son Paul. Initially I disliked him, but as the story progressed, he grew on me. He really started trying to make a new life on the farm, helping out, and befriending both Zane and Nairne.
Water’s Edge was interesting, logical, with well-formed themes and characters, and a little mystery. I enjoyed it, and have already moved onto the second book in the series, Power’s Out. I think it would be best suited to upper primary school and high school students. However, it may not suit less mature children, as the overall theme of disaster and dystopia might be too frightening, and there is some violence and death.
This book really makes me want to live off the grid in a secluded area being self-sufficient, in a well-secured and camouflaged compound with all my family by my side!
*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.