WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

A drought known as the Tap-Out leaves California with a severely decreased water supply. Then one day, the taps dry out completely. Teenage Alyssa, her 10-year-old brother, Garrett, and Uncle Basil go to Costco to buy bottled water and notice the tense, combative attitudes of everyone in line. The cases of water are already gone, but Alyssa comes up with the clever idea to buy a cart full of bagged ice to melt for water. A man attempts to take it from them.

Alyssa’s next-door neighbor Kelton McCracken is a survivalist geek. His parents are prepared for the apocalypse, complete with a well-guarded home, a stockpile of water and a backup generator for power. The leader of the homeowners’ association comes to the McCrackens’ house with an expensive present, hoping that in return they’ll share their resources with others, but Kelton’s father isn’t sympathetic to people who are unprepared for a crisis.

Day by day, the situation worsens. Alyssa’s has a friend named Sofia whose entire family packs their belongings and leaves California. Then Uncle Basil leaves to stay with his ex-girlfriend so he won’t use up any more of Alyssa’s family’s water. On the news, the first death from dehydration is recorded, and incidents of people attempting to steal water from a hospital are mentioned.

On the third day after the taps run dry, Kelton grows concerned. Even though his family is better prepared than anyone else, it still seems like they’re not ready for the magnitude of this crisis. His thoughts also turn toward Alyssa, on whom he has a long-term crush.

Tragedy strikes at Alyssa’s house when Garrett accidentally knocks bleach into the bathtub full of drinkable water they had been hoarding. Afraid of his parents’ disappointment, Garrett runs away from home on his bike. Alyssa’s parents go to look for him. Alyssa borrows a bike from Kelton, who rides along with her to help with the search. They find Garrett in an abandoned house where one of his friends once lived. The friend had owned a giant fish tank, which has now been smashed by thieves trying to get the water.

At Kelton’s house, there’s tension between his parents because his mother wants to share their stockpiled water with needy neighbors, but his father thinks they will only have enough to keep themselves alive.

The power in the neighborhood turns off completely, and with Alyssa’s parents gone to the beach to get water from a desalination station, Kelton offers to stay overnight with Alyssa and Garrett to help them feel more secure. The next day, all three of them travel on their bikes to find Alyssa’s parents. When they arrive at the beach, they find a disaster zone with no people. The tear gas cannisters littered on the ground indicate that there was a riot. The desalination machines are broken on the beach, apparently torn to shreds by rioting people.

As the kids leave the scene, Alyssa sees some teenagers beating up an older man who won’t give them the keys to his BMW, where he has a hidden water bottle. Alyssa intervenes and is attacked instead. When the leader of the teenagers grabs Alyssa, Kelton produces a handgun and threatens him. Kelton can’t bring himself to use the gun.

When the leader knocks it out of his hand, a beautiful teenage girl picks up the gun and aims it at the leader, threatening to kill him unless Alyssa gives her the keys to the car with the water in it. The girl’s name is Jacqui, and she agrees to drive Alyssa, Garrett and Kelton home in return for Kelton giving her medicine for an infected cut on her arm.

Mr. McCracken isn’t happy about Kelton bringing home three other people, but he allows them to stay. Alyssa steals some water from the McCrackens and sneaks out to give the water to the families at a neighborhood meeting. However, there are 17 families represented at the meeting and only 12 bottles of water.

Soon people begin to argue angrily about the division of resources. Alyssa slips back to the McCrackens’ house with a newfound realization about how quickly human nature turns ugly during times of scarcity. On the news, martial law is declared in most of California.

In the middle of the night, the McCrackens hear someone at the door. When the door opens, Mr. McCracken shoots the intruder before realizing that the man he just shot is his oldest son, Brady. At the same time, the desperate neighbors breach the McCrackens’ outer fence, coming to steal their water.

Alyssa knocks Kelton unconscious before he starts shooting his neighbors in a fit of anger. The McCrackens are too busy mourning Brady to leave their house, so Jacqui drives away in the BMW, carrying just Alyssa, Garrett and Kelton. To get to the McCrackens’ secret bugout hidden in the woods, Kelton says they will need a vehicle with a high chassis, the kind of off-road vehicle that Alyssa’s Uncle Basil owns.

They drive to a wealthy suburb to find Uncle Basil. They discover that he and his ex-girlfriend have been drinking contaminated water from the suburb’s well. Uncle Basil now has dysentery. Uncle Basil tells them he gave the truck to a wealthy teenager named Henry in exchange for bottled water.

When they force their way into Henry’s house to get the truck’s keys, he produces a gun. Kelton rushes toward him and twists his arm out of the socket. It turns out the gun wasn’t real, and Kelton pops Henry’s arm back into place. Henry offers Alyssa a deal: He will give them her uncle’s truck, if they take him with them. He offers to throw in a case of bottled water, not revealing that there’s not actually any water inside the heavy box.

The five kids drive through dry riverbeds to reach the Angeles National Forest where the McCrackens’ bugout is. They stop to siphon gas from some abandoned cars near the river and accept help from a camp of kind people managed by a woman named Charity. Charity finds water for her group by harvesting it from the window-washing fluid tanks of abandoned cars. The kids rest and leave the camp the next day, listening to radio reports about increasingly frequent forest fires in the area.

When they arrive at the bugout, they see that all the food and water have been consumed and realize that Kelton’s older brother, Brady, must have moved into the bugout when he left his family’s house after high school. They still think they have one box of Henry’s water bottles in their truck, but when they open it they find only advertisement brochures. Henry tries to sneak away, but Kelton tackles him. They realize Henry has been lying to them all along so that they would keep him with them. They tie his hands and exclude him from decision-making

Kelton thinks they have one last hope of survival if they go to the San Gabriel Reservoir, but they are dangerously dehydrated. If they don’t get water within a few hours, they’ll collapse and die. When they stop the truck to investigate some loud music, Kelton discovers that two men with large weapons are drinking water openly beside their camper. He also realizes that the music and the water must be a trap. Henry steals the keys to the truck and runs toward the men. Kelton follows him.

Henry and Kelton have been gone for a few minutes when the two scary men approach the truck and announce to Alyssa that Henry sold the truck to them for a drink of water, and then ran away. When one of the men grabs Alyssa, Garrett bites him with enough force to leave a bloody wound. The other man aims a gun at Garrett, but Kelton arrives and shoots both men in the head, killing them.

Garrett faints from exhaustion, and Alyssa knows he is near death. Alyssa, Kelton and Jacqui go back to the men’s camp to retrieve their water but find that their campfire has expanded, burning their cooler full of water. Alyssa goes inside the camper and sees an old woman. Alyssa takes the woman’s water cup and runs to give it to Garrett, who revives before they drive away.

Kelton accidentally damages the gas tank of the truck with his poor driving, so the four kids must walk 1 mile to reach the reservoir. A fire appears in front of them, having spread from the men’s campfire. Instead of running around the fire, Jacqui runs right through it, trying to get to the reservoir.

Alyssa, Kelton and Garrett begin to walk uphill, around the fire, which only keeps growing and getting hotter. Kelton nearly collapses, but Alyssa refuses to let him rest. When they reach the top of the ridge, Alyssa sees that there’s no downhill slope, just a cliff face. They are trapped with a wildfire coming toward them. Alyssa realizes that her little brother may burn alive if she doesn’t shoot him first.

She holds the gun to Garrett’s head, and he asks her to kill him. Then suddenly, she hears a helicopter overhead. It’s a firefighting helicopter, which dumps a load of water on all three kids. Alyssa and Garrett drink up water that has fallen on nearby rocks, but Kelton has passed out and can’t drink. Alyssa fills up her mouth with water and brings it to him, little by little. The kids see the helicopter heading to the reservoir for a fresh load of fire-fighting water, which gives them hope.

Two weeks after the Tap-Out is declared over, life has returned to a semblance of normalcy for Alyssa and Garrett. They were airlifted away from the wildfire, received treatment for smoke inhalation and were reunited with their parents. Back in their neighborhood, they return to their school to finish the academic year. Uncle Basil survives the crisis and returns to live with them.

They see Henry on TV, swindling people again by pretending to be a hero who rescued trapped residents of a nursing home. Alyssa’s father prepares to drive her and Kelton to a hospital where a burn unit victim — Jacqui — has requested to see them. Civilization is slowly repairing itself.

Christian Beliefs

A character paraphrases part of Isaiah 11:6, which says, “And a little child shall lead them.” During the crisis, the kids see a church full of praying people. Jacqui recalls that her grandmother believed in God and always said that God answered prayer.

Other Belief Systems

One of Alyssa’s friends is Jewish and does volunteer work at her local synagogue.

Authority Roles

Alyssa’s parents are competent and protective of Garrett and drop everything to go search for him when he runs away from home. Alyssa is impressed with their kindness toward herself and Garrett, and their dedication to each other.

Mr. McCracken teaches his son valuable life skills, but he has trouble empathizing with the needs of others. Mr. McCracken’s harsh attitude and high standards drove Kelton’s older brother, Brady, from home right after high school. For the past few years, Brady has rarely contacted his family.

Without adults, the five young people must learn to work together. Jacqui and Henry are both manipulative, trying to turn every situation for their own good. Kelton and Alyssa look out for everyone’s welfare, not just their own.

Profanity/Violence

Profanity includes the words a--, d--n, the f-word, h---, b--tard, b--ch and s---. God’s name is used in vain a few times.

The scene is not depicted, but Jacqui recalls seeing riots where people trampled each other to death and stabbed each other with knives. Mr. McCracken mistakenly shoots his oldest son in the chest, killing him.

Garrett bites a man’s arm, leaving a bloody wound. Kelton shoots two men in the head.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

A man starts trafficking teenage girls by giving them water bottles in exchange for sex. One of Alyssa’s soccer teammates decides to take his offer and enters his van.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Drugs: The kids find marijuana in their Uncle Basil’s truck. It is confiscated by a police officer at an evacuation center.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

16 and up

Author

Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Simon & Schuster BFYR

Released

On Video

Year Published

2018

Awards

Chicago Public Library’s Best of Teen Fiction, 2018; NYPL Best Books for Teens, 2018

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!