Summary: Twins Eli and Seth Maddox are raised in the Keylands, a wealthy post-apocalyptic community with the power to control the weather and a lot of secrets. Droughtlanders are those who live outside the walls of the Keylands, plagued by many sicknesses and long-term drought. After an incident involving the death of a Droughtlander circus performer, Eli starts asking questions and learns his mother Lisette is actually a former Droughtlander working to overthrow the Keylanders in a rebellion. When she dies and Eli knows his own father is responsible, he finds his way into the Droughtlands to seek out his mother’s family and get some answers. Though he approaches Seth to come with him, Seth threatens him and refuses because he is headed on his own path to becoming a Keyland guard. As the brothers’ paths cross after some time has passed, both are irrevocably changed by their experiences.
Number of Pages: 347
Age Range: 15-17
Review: A sharp contrast to her other books, The Droughlanders by Carrie Mac is a slowly developing story filled with secrets, two journeys and complex family relationships. In a word, it’s epic.
Two brothers have been raised the same but are quite different. Seth, the older twin, is a bully who dreams of going into the Keylander guard. Like his father he has a thirst for power, and is given the opportunity to exploit that power when he bribes his way up to being placed on patrol in the Droughtlands.
Eli, questioning reality after a horrible event, finds out his mother is working for what he believes is the enemy. But when he overhears his father making plans to blow up his mother’s place of work, her death after the bombing does not come as surprise. Left with no one to give him the answers he’s desperately seeking, he heads out to the Droughtlands himself to find her family.
Before Eli goes though, he makes the mistake of asking Seth to come along and tells Seth that their mother was actually a Droughtlander rebel. With his position in the guard so close to being achieved, Seth threatens Eli’s life and then becomes obsessed with finding him to kill him.
My favourite part is how Mac uses a futuristic world to address modern day struggles. Apathy due to addiction, homophobic attitudes justified by a belief system, and the entitlement of the wealthy to act without morals. It’s not the easiest read because it’s quite intense at times with stabbings, sickness, death, slaughtering, rape and drug addiction but Mac’s writing builds a whole world with two very divided peoples and all of the problems that come with one community taking advantage of another.
It’s a story with incredible plot twists and is clearly building to the next book, Retribution. Can’t wait to find out where Mac takes her series as the main characters are in completely different places at the end of the book than they are in the beginning.
“Lisette gripped his hand right. ‘You and your brother are so different. When you were little I treated you the same teaching you compassion and empathy without your father knowing. I watched him make you hunt, and deny your friendships with the staff’s children, and teach you to be so cruel to the labour, and I hoped my teaching would at least end up in a balance of sorts. That my attention to the soul and the heart and the body would result in compassion and critical thinking and understanding and strength.'” – Lisette, Eli & Seth’s mother from The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac, page 24
“It was different when it came right down to it. It was hard to want to kill the twin who you played with, fought with, and knew since conception, no matter how fraught the relationship, or how evil the twin.” – Eli from The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac, page 201