Mindy McGinnis’s debut book Not A Drop to Drink is 309 pages long. You’d never know it though. This story about a girl named Lynn and her mother and how they survive when the world has pretty much run out of water goes by at the speed of light. Well okay, maybe not really at the speed of light. But damn, it feels like it. I sat down with this book around 7pm, thinking I’d just get started, that I’d just read a tiny bit and then attack my mile long To Do list. But a funny thing happened. I read chapter one of Not A Drop to Drink and didn’t even realize I then had started on chapter two, and then three, and then five and then ten and then fourteen and then eighteen. So vivid and effortless was McGinnis’s storytelling that time pretty much ceased to exist, my To Do list a mere scrap of paper that was long forgotten. Her characters came to life right in front of me, and I was suddenly immersed in every square inch of her barren but beautiful, savage but brave, incredible new world.

Speaking of characters…from the leads to the most secondary of people…they all stick with you. Just as much as I admire Lynn’s complexity and spirit, so too do I admire the strangers that she meets on a cold and lonesome day, the next door neighbor who at first is nothing but a shadowy figure but becomes so full and real that I found myself wishing he was my next door neighbor. And then there was the mother that was like Mommy Dearest and Maleficent and Maria von Trapp all in one. She was tough, she was cruel, she loved her family above all else, she was unforgiving, she was wise.

And for readers who love a good love story as much as me…there’s a doozy of a love story in this one. But don’t think it’s front and center. This isn’t like Bella’s burning desire for Edward and the story revolves around that. This is more like Katniss’s story, about a girl who puts survival and family first and foremost. She’s not looking for marriage ten years down the road. She’s solely focused on the next ten minutes.

All in all, Mindy McGinnis has crafted a pitch perfect novel that’s as equally romantic as it is fast-paced and devastating. The ending alone will wreak havoc on your health: you won’t breathe, you won’t blink, and you’re blood pressure will go through the roof. It’s certainly one of the most cinematic scenes I’ve ever read.

Not a drop to drink? Try not a moment wasted. Mindy McGinnis’s book is a triumph.