Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

November 29, 2014 Review 35 ★★★★

Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Source: Edelweiss
Pages: 384
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


In many ways, I liked In A Handful of Dust more than its predecessor Not a Drop to Drink. However, the last 15% or so didn’t quite work for me, I was left with a lot of questions. Still, this is a solid contribution to the YA dystopian genre that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Starting out with the positives, the pacing is fantastic. I’m reminded a little bit of The Forever Song because it has the main characters traveling for a large portion of the book, but it was not as tedious or uneventful. Something was always happening or had to be dealt with, but not unrealistically so. You really wanted to see where the book was going to go, and the pages flew by.

It’s no secret that I tend to prefer a character driven novel, and I felt more of a connection to the characters in this book than I did with its companion. I really sympathized with Lucy and Lynn, as well as all the other characters. I wanted the best for them. The story really revolves around the two and their emotional journey as well as their actual one.

About 20% before the end, things started to seem out of place. It sometimes felt like a totally different book, there was a new setting and different plot-lines were introduced. It seemed kind of unnecessary- it didn’t really move the story along. Plus, there was an addition (somewhat of a small surprise) that was really out there and had me going WHAT?

In a bad way, not a good way.
View Spoiler »

On the topic of the ending, the whole book built up and built up but it kind of just fizzled out at the end. Everything was tied up quickly and easily, wrapped up but lacking a bow. It was bittersweet, and I definitely had a case of FEELS but I still felt the conclusion was anti-climatic, especially since I was so invested in this story and the characters. There was a relatively open ending, at least in my mind. I prefer all loose ends dealt with and there to be a clear ending with few What Ifs. However, I do realize that particular type of ending might not have worked well with this series.

But those were the only real issues I had with the book, I thought it was great overall and will recommend both In A Handful of Dust and Not a Drop to Drink for anyone looking for a realistic dystopia or just a good read in general.

This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
None of these gifs are mine.

Rating Report
Overall: 4

35 Responses to “Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis”

  1. Joy (Joyousreads)

    4 star rating is still good. Though I would be in the same position as you with the questionable path that McGinnis took the plot. I read the spoiler, and unless they have some pretty good filtration method, I don’t know how that’s possible. Considering what kind of filtration the mother and daughter were using on the first book? Impossible.
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 129

    • Alise

      Yeah, I definitely still liked the book! It was a pretty thrown together setup but I really didn’t understand why that was included in the book, like it was so random and off the wall.

  2. Melliane

    I’m glad you had again a good time with this one. I haven’t read the series I confess but it sounds interesting. It’s nice to see that the pace was good and that you were able to well connect with the characters!
    Melliane recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #120

  3. Jeanz

    Hi, I admit to also feeling a bit unsure about the filtering of the water that you mention in the spoiler etc.
    At the end of the book I also initially thought there was going to be a book 3, but after contacting the author was told there were no plans for that. Which is a shame, I would have loved another book telling how the separation of Lucy and Lynn would work out.
    Jeanz recently posted…REVIEW – THE SUPREMACY BY MEGAN WHITE

    • Alise

      Right? I didn’t really see the point, it’s like that was just thrown in to give the girls an excuse to leave there. Me too! That’s a real same, I want to know those things too! Especially what happened with Fletcher and Stebbs :C

  4. Sara L.

    I’ve yet to read Not A Drop To Drink, but the premise has always intrigued me. Do you recommend that one as well? (I’d read that one before In A Handful Of Dusk, of course.)
    Sara L. recently posted…The 7/7/7 Challenge

  5. Wattle

    It’s a two book series? Is it just me, or does that seem like a strange number? (Then again, I do like odd numbers :) ) Huh. I haven’t read the first book yet, but I definitely thought it was going to be a trilogy. Interesting.

    It’s good to hear that it’s still enjoyable even if you found some elements a bit odd.
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #19

    • Alise

      Oh my gosh, I’m exactly the opposite, I can not stand odd numbers xD And unfortunately no, it’s just going to be a duology, at least for now :c

    • Alise

      Yeah it’s pretty good, the spoiler isn’t anything that changes my whole opinion on the book so you aren’t missing out :P I’m always tempted to click on spoilers too, haha. Thanks!

    • Alise

      It’s funny, because I think I’ve only read two zombies books lol. But yeah, I completely get it, I’m starting to get that way with fantasy. I hope you do, it’s definitely one of the better YA dystopia I’ve read.

    • Alise

      Yeah, besides the odd part near the end, I did really enjoy the book.

      You should sometime, I think you would like it! :)

  6. Kirsty-Marie

    Sounds like you enjoyed it overall (despite leading up to the ending) I haven’t even read the first one yet, but I prefer character driven novels more so too. At least you had a better connections to the characters this time. :)
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Captive

    • Alise

      I did! I would be really curious to find out what you think about these so let me know if you ever get around to reading them? :D Yeah, you really got to know different sides of them!

    • Alise

      It takes some getting used to, since the POVs changed and time has passed but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. Hope you like it better if you try to read it again!

  7. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Bleh, it sounds like it started off really well in the first book but this one kind of fizzled out! It’s always surprising when you’re halfway through a sequel and you’re like wait, what am I reading cos it’s so different to the first! A shame it was anti-climactic, but at 4 stars it sounded like you still enjoyed it, Alise. Great review!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Talon by Julie Kagawa Review: Lamest Dragons Ever

    • Alise

      Exactly, that’s exactly it! Such a different feeling. It was really good up until the last section, I wish it had went in a different direction but I’m mostly content.

    • Alise

      Right? There should be a strong conclusion, not one that leaves you feeling unfilled. BAHA! It’s all part of my grand plan ;)

    • Alise

      There just aren’t enough hours, I know what you mean. Yeah I did, they are pretty impressive for YA dystopia. Yeah!

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