Bites
January 5, 2012

Published January 25, 2011.

Author Website

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known? (goodreads.com)

Um, I’m not sure where to start. It’s not what I thought it was going to be. I didn’t think the story was going to be so incestuously cyclical, I was hoping Ford wouldn’t be a douche and I was hoping Ruby would be smarter and stronger than what she turned out to be.
Initially it took me a chapter or two to get my bearings. Basically this is a cult worshipping a non-standard God named Otto with blood that heals and allows them to live indefinitely, aging at an incredibly slow rate so long as they continue to drink Kool Aid Water. Originally the Water was christened with Otto’s blood and that ran out but Joan Crawford Sula, Ruby’s mom, found out that Ruby had her daddy’s blood so let’s continue the cycle.
But what we really have here is some heinous child abuse for the sake of waiting for a god that never comes. Someone really needs to teach these people about Jesus. Why? Because them Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for his return and they’re still waiting! 200 years? Pfft. Noobs.
Basically Ruby’s indoctrinated into thinking that she needs to sacrifice everything of herself for the Congregants. But when Ruby starts punching holes in that logic, enter standard hypocritical religious nuts that stand on the soap box of “do as I say, not as I do.” It’s typical. Sula is the reincarnate of Jim Jones but instead of killing her people to meet their god, she keeps them living for an inhuman amount of time, waiting for their god to return. But it’s not a nice waiting. They’re enslaved. And when they actually get a chance to be free she enslaves them again but gets better terms. Hooray! . . . ?
When Ruby’s made leader it’s for no other reason than because of her blood. Not because she’s exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities. Not because she’s stood up to Darwin West. But because of her blood. Dear god, can we not vote like that please? Of course, shenanigans ensue, which is what ultimately happens when an incompetent teenager is elected into a leadership position.
Which leads me to ask why is Ruby over 200 years old with the brain of a teenager? Shouldn’t she be like Claudia in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, child’s body, adult’s mind? That would make more sense to me. I get that she was born into this cult and all and never experienced love but it’s not like it wasn’t around her. Her thought process just didn’t make sense to me, simply because she shouldn’t have been thinking like a teenager.
And then there’s Ford, who totally can’t be with Ruby because she doesn’t believe in Jesus but he loves her and she loves him but she won’t go all the way and he gets cranky. Seriously. I thought we were over this. Ford is nothing more than a local loser that more than likely burned his way through the village girls and, having run out of options, fixated on the brainwashed cult girl that obviously didn’t know her ass from her elbow. What a perfect victim life mate! Did I mention he was forceful and completely un-understanding about anyone else’s religious views than his own? Oh yeah. Gimme some of that.
There was some redemption at the end but I think it was too little too late. I was considering giving the book up halfway through because the story kept cycling back on the same day like a really boring Groundhog Day. All talk, no action. And when there was some action, it was short-lived and then abandoned completely. And then shoved right back into the same cycle. Of course it took a heinous event to light a fire under Ruby’s ass, and this then cycles back around to her supposed lack of brainpower. I don’t care who you are. One doesn’t live for more than 200 years in slavery without developing some decent survival skills and some kind ability to see the forest for the trees. Especially when you’re standing in the middle of it.
The story I would have liked to have seen would be Ruby and the Visitor. Not romantically, but he seemed like a far more dynamic character than any of the rest. Darwin was your typical villain. Nothing special about him. But the Visitor was so much more, something infinitely creepier but at the same time exhibited levels of kindness not seen in Darwin. There was a complexity there that could have elevated the story well beyond the basic bust out of slavery, slave master gets his comeuppance story. Ruby could have escaped early on and the story could have been about her run from the Visitor.
Nope. This is what we got. Nearly 300 pages of not much followed by another 100 of something but not enough. It could have been so much more if Ruby would have just left the stock characters behind. I was hoping to get more of her reacting to the modern world but what I did get was just a tease clouded over by Ford. I am disappointed for the story that could have been.
The voice is okay although dull. I’m assuming it’s supposed to show the time that they all come from but considering they’ve been associating with outside people for so long, I’m not understanding why they’re still so in the dark, not only about language but about so many other things. The children especially should have been more susceptible to outside language but that didn’t happen.
I’m just all around disappointed. It could have been so much more but it wasn’t. I’m not sure who I’d recommend DROUGHT to. It’s not dystopian or post-apocalyptic. It’s not contemporary. It’s not paranormal. It’s about a girl overcoming odds but that’s a bit of a stretch. Breaking the bonds of slavery to set out on her own. But Ruby isn’t that smart of a character so I don’t think it really works. I don’t know. I’m at a loss on this one.

Ban Factor: High – A cult worshipping a false idol and PUSHING AWAY the one true God? Ayeeeeeeeee!

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