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nicksoutter_thewaterthief_front_finalReviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Water Thief is a dystopian novel in the vein of 1984. Instead of a communist government that went totalitarian, there is no government at all. Everything is a part of the free market. Everything. Pure Capitalism. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; the only thing that matters is making more money. Like 1984 it is a depressing look at an extreme of human ingenuity.

Charles Thatcher is a private citizen. Which does not mean what one today would expect. It means that he is privately owned by a corporation. Many would consider that a good thing, especially when it is one as big and as important as the Ackerman Brothers. Plenty of room for advancement. Everything is for sale, including people. You can sell your own futures to whoever you want and those futures can be traded on a stock market. Not only that, if your shares fall in value too much, they might liquidate your assets to recoup their losses. This does not mean selling your portfolio. Human organs are still worth quite a lot for those with power and money and the need.

Charles is a man with a problem. He wants more out of life than having to worry every minute of every day about someone ratting him out or making him a scapegoat for a few dollars. It is truly a dog eat dog world and you have to be on your guard 24 – 7. Even at home with one’s spouse.

And then he meets a girl. A girl that holds views he doesn’t want to admit, even to himself, that he wants to believe. That there is a better way to run the world and government isn’t the terrible horror it’s portrayed to be. Then things start to unravel.

I found this book to be an incredible read, but then I liked 1984, Fahrenheit 451, etc. Dystopian novels have two basic endings and with as strongly as this one reminded me of 1984, I had a pretty good idea of how it would end. I was surprised at how close I had the ending picked out. But even with that, I still sat and thought about the different twists and turns the ending implied as possible but that were never overtly stated. The big lesson to learn here is that any form of “government” taken to extremes becomes a form of totalitarianism. It shows that extreme Capitalism isn’t any better a way of life than any other “ism”. Be wary of those who preach otherwise.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kelley and Hall Publicity. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.