SPSFC 1: Drained by Marc Daniel Acriche

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The year is 2048 and Casey is a senior in high school in what’s left of NYC. Although this world is close to ours in many respects, there are some glaring differences. One of the biggest being Recruitment by the ICP. The ICP is kind of like a government military branch that comes through and Recruits in high schools just like the military does now, but they’re more authoritarian about it. You’re not allowed to speak ill against them or the government, if you have any kind of feelings you need to remove yourself to somewhere private to express them.

So, Casey’s best friend has a boyfriend go missing. He was not at all a type who would join up with ICP has supposedly joined up. Jennifer happens to be the daughter of someone important, he’s running for Mayor.. or maybe re-election as Mayor, I honestly can’t remember. What matters is her dad is a high-up and that can get strings pulled for Jennifer in ways that other people can’t manage. When her boyfriend goes missing they try and find out what happened. The plotline here was fairly simple to start out with, which is fine. Simple can be compelling, but the problem is some of the issues were just dropped. When there aren’t many threads you’ve got to carry them through to the end. What happened to her mom and the bf?

Now, Casey’s dad has also gone missing, and that shit’s unusual. He was supposedly a really good dad and husband, a dedicated cop for the city, and an all around good person. The ICP started to sweat him a little and he disappeared. Casey has held out hope that there’s going to be a happy re-union once things settle down, but he’s been no where to be seen. Her mom has no idea where he went, and feeling abandoned, she has begun dating. Casey tries not to hold it against her mom, but this new dude is very douchey. So, this does play off a bunch of coming-of-age tropes and so your enjoyment level may vary depending on how much you enjoy these plotlines. She’s young and she acts like it. She doesn’t always think things through, she’s pretty spunky and gung-ho, she can have mood swings as well. However, she’s aware of all of it, for her age I found her to be a compelling character and she wasn’t so angsty or angry that she became irritating to me. That can happen easily for me in YA if the character is too immature that they get under my skin. I picked Granny Weatherwax as a avatar with good reason, lol. Get off my lawn. That said, the secondary characters were very flat to me which for a book so short, there was room to add depth.

As far as the world, it’s gone into a crisis. NYC has flooded and it’s really hot. It’s not as hot as it was in the book Gates of Mars that was another quarterfinalist this year for our team, but it’s hot enough that shit’s going wrong fast. I still would have liked more here, that seems to be a theme with me this year with this batch, “please give me more detail on how this world works.” I would have liked to know more about the years leading up to what happened since it wasn’t that long ago.

This was a quick light read, and if you’re really into dystopian worlds with characters coming of age this could be a read for you.


  • Plot: 5/15
  • Characters: 8/15
  • World Building: 8/15
  • Writing: 11/15
  • Pacing: 11/15
  • Originality: 8/15
  • Enjoyment: 5/10

Final Score: 56/100