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The Water Knife Audiobook

The Water Knife

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, May 2015 - The Water Knife is a dark, apocalyptic novel that takes place in the near-future and explores the impact of a shifting climate that causes permanent and debilitating drought conditions in the American Southwest. Author Paolo Bacigalupi proves himself as a master of world building by creating a distinct sense of place that feels completely plausible. The plot itself starts off slowly, dropping you into this world, familiarizing you with the state of affairs... and then the pace picks up and you are thrown head-first into the action. Those who control the water control everything and will do anything to keep it. By the end it's a free-for-all. Bacigalupi has created a futuristic, yet believable, Wild West I hope never becomes a reality. —Tricia, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times best-selling author and National Book Award finalist, dives once again into our uncertain future with his first thriller for adults since his multi-award-winning debut phenomenon The Windup Girl.

In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, detective, leg breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel "cuts" water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get nothing but dust.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. There he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with no love for Vegas and every reason to hate Angel, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas refugee who survives by her wits and street smarts in a city that despises everything she represents.

With bodies piling up, bullets flying, and Phoenix teetering on collapse, it seems like California is making a power play to monopolize the life-giving flow of a river. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria, time is running out, and their only hope for survival rests in each other's hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

©2015 Paolo Bacigalupi (P)2015 Audible Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[A]fresh, genre-bending thriller....Bacigalupi weaves an engrossing tale all his own, crackling with edgy style." (Los Angeles Times)

"An ambitious, genre-dissolving thriller and a timely cautionary tale....this epic, visionary novel should appeal to a wide audience." (Publishers Weekly)

"There is a savage beauty to the novel, which makes it one of the best books of 2015 I have read so far." (SFF World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1976 )
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  •  
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 09-24-15
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 09-24-15 Member Since 2008

    Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The fight for water in a drought fueled apocalypse"

    Water rights on the Colorado River have been debated and negotiated for almost 100 years and the existing agreements are actually rather complex. The southwestern US, arid by nature, is completely dependent on water from the Colorado River which originates from the north. Upper Basin States are bound by "The Law of the River" to let the water flow south to support the needs of California, Nevada, and Arizona. So what happens when the climate changes and the available water is only a fraction of what is needed for all involved? Well, you find yourself in the dusty, apocalyptic setting of the Water Knife where law and lawlessness exist in equal measure within the southwestern US.

    Due to a lack of water many southwestern cities have gone dry and the constitution is modified to no longer guarantee safe travel between the states. States borders are closed to limit population growth and patrolled by state military and local militia. The federal government sits back and lets the individual states handle border disagreements on their own but they loom as an ever present threat should any state go too far in their dealings with their neighbors.

    The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a bully of an organization with a private army willing to do whatever is necessary to gain control of as many water rights as possible. These rights are being used to build sustainable "arcologies" for the wealthy that keep Las Vegas alive and profitable. With California more than able to protect itself from Nevada, the SNWA turns its military and legal might against Arizona. Phoenix is just about out of water and has become a hell hole of poverty where lawlessness has the upper hand. #phoenixdownthetubes documents the slow death of the local population for the rest of the world to see online and there is little hope of a better future.

    Paolo Baciagalupi inserts a cast of interesting characters into this setting and Almarie Guerra brings them to life with an excellent narration. Her reading of the story kept me interested from beginning to end and the characters felt like real people in an all too possible apocalypse. I was intrigued enough by the story to do a little extra reading on "The Law of the River" to improve my understanding of how the water rights of this region have been handled over the years and that made the scenario all the more plausible.

    So if you like apocalyptic fiction and are up for something different from the standard fare of zombies, epidemics, and nuclear war then you have come to the right place.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Vancouver, BC, Canada 09-17-15
    James Vancouver, BC, Canada 09-17-15 Member Since 2002

    Satisfied Audible listener since 2002. I mostly listen to Sci-fi and anything by Stephen King.

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    "Terrifying near future ripped from today's headlines."

    Maybe the best book I have listened to so far this year. The three main protagonists are really well drawn and their motivations make sense. The overall scenario seems frighteningly real and after this summer almost upon us. Here I sit in water rich Vancouver caring about #pheonixdownthetubes. It's the first book I have listened to by this performer. She did a great job.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Wing Redlands, CA United States 08-02-15
    K. Wing Redlands, CA United States 08-02-15

    I listen to audiobooks when I drive and when I hike.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Law of the River"

    Having some understanding of the rights to Colorado River water and the priority of those rights will make this novel more enjoyable and believable for most; so do a little research before reading. The Bureau of Reclamation has good info on the Law of the River on their website. That said, this is a good novel that shows human beings during desperate times. It is a reminder that we are not good or bad, but just trying to survive.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam United States 06-03-15
    Pam United States 06-03-15 Member Since 2016

    Science writer in America's heartland

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I think the world is big, and we broke it."

    (My favorite quote from the book.) This was the first book of Bacigalupi's that I've read, and I think it's going to stick with me for a long time. At least for now—having just finished it—I feel like it has simultaneously renewed and destroyed my faith in mankind. Disaster inspires the most selfless acts of kindness in some people, and the worst kind of avarice in others. The key players struggle with which kind of person they're going to be. Bacigalupi tells the story in stark reality.

    With the southwestern US currently suffering from a megadrought, this story could hit terribly close to home for the people who live there, and I almost want to caution them not to read it, because it could give them nightmares. I would also caution anyone sensitive to violence. But if you want to think deeply about some of the potential consequences of climate change and untangle a web of corporate and governmental lies and deceit at the same time, this is the book for you.

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlie Livonia, MI, US 08-13-15
    Charlie Livonia, MI, US 08-13-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Paolo is the master of apocalyptic science fiction"
    Would you listen to The Water Knife again? Why?

    I would listen to the book again as it creates characters that you really care about in a apocalyptic setting.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Water Knife?

    One of the most memorable moments was the surrender of Maria's body to the music and Sarah's boyfriend in the night club through the use of a hallucinogenic called "Bubble".


    Have you listened to any of Almarie Guerra’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Najima Rainey 05-30-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth your time and credit!"

    This book gets it right on so many levels.

    The characters, their journeys and motivations are very clear. The story is engaging and intelligent without being self-important. AND, I can emphasis this enough, it actually has an interesting plot that propels action forward.

    I've read so many books where plot is just a starting point for a lot of long winded prose and character development. Then somewhere towards the end you get a resolution that is completely unsatisfying or ridiculous. So actually reading a book that starts out good and continues to be good all the way through was such a breath of fresh air.

    33 of 39 people found this review helpful
  •  
    motoJill Oregon, United States 06-13-15
    motoJill Oregon, United States 06-13-15 Member Since 2012

    motoJill

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    "I loved this book!"

    I loved this book! I couldn't guess how it would end and I couldn't stop listening until I found out.

    The story is standard-for-the genre explorations of good vs evil, idealism vs realism, perceived vs real power, and the human drive to survive at any cost, but each of the characters grew more relatable throughout. Some even surprised me with not-so-standard for the genre explorations of how much the power players really know and control.

    Re the narration:

    On the one hand, I share the complaints of other listeners re the narrator's mis-pronunciation of common English words. Each time, the fact that the decimated word might be found on a middle school vocabulary test is more distracting than the mis-pronunciation itself. Where were the producers?!

    On the other hand, I liked the narration. A lot. Ms. Guerra does a fine job with both male and female voices and I had no problem moving from character to character. In my opinion, the reader captured the tone of the novel and the voice of each character. Were it not for the pronunciation errors scattered throughout, it would be a near-flawless reading. And I listen to A LOT of audiobooks with a A LOT of narrators, from great to awful and everything in between.

    Use a credit and get this book!

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    onemanrelay 07-09-15
    onemanrelay 07-09-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Solid story telling in a grim future"

    I really enjoyed this reading and the story. the narrator does a great job of portraying male and female characters of different social standing and race. Bacigalupi is so good at creating this kind of world in which compromised morality and sense of self drive character decisions and move the action forward. His ability to build tension is fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 05-14-16
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 05-14-16 Member Since 2015

    I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "GRAB YOUR ANKLES"

    YEA, YEA, I KNOW
    Every since "Windup Girl", we have been told by Academia, that Paolo is the next best thing in Science Fiction. I took some heat for giving "Windup Girl" a negative review in 2010, but now that the hype is over and the general public has spoken, that book has a 3.6 rating. I have enjoyed Paolo's short stories, like in Pump Six, but novel wise he has yet to write something entertaining. HASH TAG, COLLAPSE 2.0, this is boring. Can't believe I wasted half a credit on this.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie 10-05-15
    Bonnie 10-05-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Drudgery"

    My mind had plenty of time to wander and I had to discipline myself to re-read which eliminated the joy of reading. It was difficult to figure out who the Texans and The Water Knife were. There was no explanation. As I said, pure drudgery but the reader was excellent.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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  • Laurent
    6/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Poor performance"
    Would you try another book written by Paolo Bacigalupi or narrated by Almarie Guerra?

    Probably not. The narrator is very poor. The bad accents and strange cadence hurts my ears.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance should have been a bit more neutral. Every line sounds over the top and far from natural. Cringing.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alice
    12/17/15
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    "Stick with it."

    A slow and slightly confusing start but then I'm not used to listening to books, I like to read. It got going for me in the 5th chapter and though there are some gory scenes, nothing a light weight like me couldn't handle as it wasn't gratuitous and moved the plot along. I found it really engaging and wanted to know what was going to happen next. I came to love the very dodgy water knife 'Angel' and am strangely missing him already. Oh dear, maybe that says a lot about me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • paul
    United Kingdom
    12/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Too feasible... scarey and uttly compelling"

    This isn't science fiction, this is slightly projected current events.

    All too believable, scarily concievable. I loved Wind-Up Girl and this is even better.. so much grittier and closer to home.

    I had no idea how Paolo was going to manage an ending that didn't sell out or frustrate... but he managed it perfectly.

    The narration was also excellent.. to the point I was starting to use some of the Hispanic phrases and expressions in my head.

    Loved it, was disappointed when it finished

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Barry
    Torrington, United Kingdom
    11/10/15
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    "Another cracker from Paolo"

    Loved his other books, this author just gets better and better. Stunningly realised world with wonderful characters that stay with you long after you've finished the book. The story is matched by the narration which is excellent. My fave audio book so far this year.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Boledylocks
    9/12/15
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    "Paolo does it again"

    Another totally immersive read. I need to brush up on my Spanish. I need to buy water shares and dig a well!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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