On My Bookshelf: War of Rain by H. W. Vivian

August 27, 2015

In the dystopian young adult novel War of Rain by H.W. Vivian, only Miri can end the war that she has begun. As a Rain-gatherer, Miri led a peaceful life until she kills a barbarian from a neighboring tribe during an attack. To prevent the complete destruction of her people, Miri must seek out an invention that will end the war and bring peace to the two tribes.
This is a sponsored post. I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.

Basic plot: Miri is a 15 year old girl living the life of a Rain-gatherer. She and her people collect rain to trade with neighboring tribes for other goods. On a trip to collect Rain, Miri and her family are attacked by the barbarians of Stratos, a hostile neighboring tribe, and Miri ends up killing a Stratos warrior as she tries to defend Gora, an elderly woman from her own tribe. The barbarians of Stratos attack Miri's village, take her as a hostage, and then leave her in the desert to die. There in the desert, Miri meets Phillip, a teenage boy banished to the desert for his own wrong doings. Together they manage to escape the desert on a giant blood thirsty crow and slaughter many Stratos barbarians on their way back to Miri's village. 

The barbarians of Stratos attack Miri's village again and this time demand that she ask the god Kalono for an invention to end war between the two tribes. The Rain-gathers have the power to liquify Rain through prayer, while the barbarians of Stratos do not. Miri travels into the mountain in search of Kalano, but instead finds another society, a tribe of people recreating the inventions of the past. She spends a year and a half learning from these people and when she returns home, she finds her entire village destroyed. A few survivors live in caves along the mountainside, but the rest of her tribe and all of the neighboring tribes have been enslaved by the barbarians of Stratos. With the help of the survivors, Miri must use her "peace/war" invention to put and end to the war between the Rain-gatherers and the barbarians of Stratos once and for all.

Why I liked it: Science fiction/fantasy/dystopia is not my usual pick when it comes to books (or TV or movies), but I found this one interesting. The novel begins with a great twist. Set in what you initially think are primitive times, barely past caveman days, War of Rain turns out to be set in the future; a world mostly destroyed by the innovation and technology of the past causing the remaining inhabitants to return to the most basic ways of living. Mentions of the past, like airplanes, space travel, and George Orwell are woven into the plot.

There were some awkward moments in the writing, like the voices in Miri's head and a moment of magical healing toward the end of the novel. There are also some thinly veiled religious themes that I thought could have been better developed.

Classroom application: This would definitely find a place in my classroom library and despite having a female main character, I think it would appeal to both male and female students.

The novel could be used as a fiction pairing in either a science or history class. The environmental science issues in the book would connect to a unit focused on human's impact on the environment and/or global warming. A history unit could include examining the fall of great civilizations and analyzing the possible fall of our own society.

In the ELA classroom, the novel could be used as a choice in literature circles themed around coming of age or quests/journeys. It could also be used during a genre study of science fiction and/or fantasy. Finally the novel could be used as a mentor text for students to write their own science fiction piece. Students would have to set their writing in the future, but make reference to scientific research and advancements from present day.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of War of Rain for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:

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