Standalone Sunday: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

I’m back with another Standalone Sunday feature, created by Megan @ BookslayerReads, each Sunday we focus on a book that is not part of a series that we’d recommend to others. This week I’m shining some light on The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi – a fab sci-fi crime thriller!


From the inside cover:


The American Southwest has been decimated by drought, Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez is sent to investigate.

With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist who knows far more about Phoenix’s water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky.

As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined. With Phoenix teetering on the verge of collapse and time running out, their only hope for survival rests in one another’s hands.

But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

My Thoughts:

This was the book choice for the online book club (Babbling Book Club) I read along with, I hadn’t heard of this author or book before so I was excited to try something new.

Water is power! Vegas and Cali are major players in the game, Phoenix is fighting for survival and Texas has been evacuated.

This story has 3 main characters:
1) Angel, the water knife.
2) Lucy Monroe, the journalist and
3) Maria, the Texas migrant

All three find themselves caught up in the corruption and politics of water rights. Angel is working for Vegas, Lucy wants to save Phoenix and Maria just wants to get the hell out! Time is running out and unbeknown to them all, their survival rests in each others hands.

It took me a little while to get into the story, I even abandoned it to read another book, and then came back to it, and I’m so glad I came back to it! I was expecting a fast-paced futuristic read but I found the beginning quiet dull and slow. This book is not for the faint-hearted either, some of the descriptions of the torture people endured were quite prolonged and vivid. I should state, this book is not filled with horrific torture details, it is only a small section and it is possible to skim read these paragraphs without spoiling the story. I don’t mind ‘gore’ in a book, but I thought it worth a mention as several people have stated they were not prepared for such gruesome details and felt a bit caught off-guard and didn’t appreciate the depth of the detail. At first I thought it was unnecessary to go into such detail but after discussions with fellow bookclub members, I think these scenes serve a purpose, they are meant to be shocking, almost a wake up call for the reader regarding society (I can’t say anymore without spoilers).

I thought the second half of this book was much better, the pace picked up, and it grabbed my full attention. I enjoyed it mainly because I liked reading the interactions between Angel and Lucy. The more I thought about this book, the more I liked it – while this is a fictional story, and the characters are an exaggeration of what I believe they represent, I think this story delivered an important message about human behaviour and raises some social and moral issues using the idea of water rights.

“I think the world is big, and we broke it.” 

“We knew it was all going to hell, and we just stood by and watched it happen anyway.”

I originally rated this book 3.5 stars but 5 days later, I returned to edit my review [on Goodreads] to a solid 4 stars as I keep thinking about this book, particularly the character of Lucy and her relationship with Angel.

This book is available now to buy from: Amazon UK

6 thoughts on “Standalone Sunday: The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

    1. 🙈 😂 Right back at ya gurl! …Wait till you see my review for Behind Her Eyes tomorrow… and my review for The Bird Tribunal is coming this week also 😉

      I still think you should just pack up your life and move to the UK so we can share books 😂 will have to look into this international postage 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

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