handful of dust book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

I believe I am in the minority when I say that I didn’t enjoy Mindy McGinnis’ In a Handful of Dust nearly as much as its predecessor, Not a Drop to Drink. While I read the first novel like I only had a day left on this earth, I was not transfixed by this second installment. I felt like Handful was not a needed novel in the world of a water shortage. I found it difficult to believe that after nearly 25 years of a fresh water shortage, the world would still be without some kind of government. Not only that, I was let down by an open-ending that only means there will be another novel at some point.

Handful is told from Lucy’s point of view; Lucy is Lynn’s adopted child of sorts from the first novel. After a long-dead disease whips through Lucy and Lynn’s little town, they are left wondering if their pond or they themselves were the culprit. As a result, they take off chasing a rumor of a settlement across the country in California that can purify salt water. Lynn and Lucy encounter more terrible humans and rough patches along their journey, but they also witness a few good men. Basically, Handful felt like Drop but with a change of scenery and a twist that reminded me of The Governor fiasco in season 4 of The Walking Dead. Actually, it was almost exactly like season 4…

I had a lot of problems with this book. While I could find the first novel believable and entertaining, this novel left me with more questions than answers. I have read other reviews where the reader was shocked to see another novel set in this same universe. While the writing was up to par with the first novel, and the characters were just as well thought out, I was left unsatisfied with a cliffhanger of an ending. I was okay with the first book being a standalone. There is a lack of those in the YA Lit category. I saw Handful as an unnecessary novel that was only moderately enjoyable as a result.

While I enjoyed Not a Drop to Drink, I was let down by In a Handful of Dust. This novel felt devoid of new themes and, like I said before, felt like a rip off of The Walking Dead. No, there are no zombies, but the strangers in this book do offer that fake sentiment found too often in the zombie-ridden TV show. Maybe I’m being too hard on this book, but I enjoyed the first book so much that I just wanted this book to live up to its predecessor. I thought that Handful was just as well-written, but lacked the believability and originality that made me fall in love with the first book.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.