The Water Thief

Rated 3.89/5 based on 9 reviews
CHARLES THATCHER is a private citizen, meaning that he’s the private property of the Ackerman Brothers Corporation. He’s got problems: the cost of air is going up, his wife wants to sell herself to another corporation, and his colleagues are always trying to get him tossed into the lye vats.

But all of that is nothing, compared to what happens when he finds a woman stealing Ackerman's rainwater. More

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About Nicholas Lamar Soutter

Nicholas Lamar Soutter was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

He graduated from Clark University with Bachelors’ Degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, and began publishing essays on politics and the social sciences.

In 2004 he completed his first book, From Inside the Mirror, about a gifted but clinically psychopathic homicide detective. Despite being represented by one of the premier agencies in the world, the Donald Maass Literary Agency, the book was never published.

In 2007 he began volunteering for the Barack Obama Campaign. In 2008 he became Connecticut for Obama’s 2nd Congressional District Coordinator.

In the meantime he finished several other works.

His latest book, The Water Thief, is a near future dystopian novel about a man trying to find his place in a world conquered by corporations

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

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Review by: Sarah Gordon Weathersby on Sep. 20, 2012 :
I really wanted to love this book. I first got into dystopian novels in high school in the '60s with George Orwell's 1984, and Animal Farm. I even wrote a term paper on the works of Orwell, after I also read some of his earlier work including Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up for Air. I was the first person to check both of those out from the public library.

I love the concept of fighting against a society where capitalism rules. Everything is for sale. Parents sell futures on their children as soon as they are born, and even rainwater isn't free. I had hopes that the protagonist, Charles Thatcher, would win out against a world maybe Ayn Rand would love. But like Orwell's Winston Smith, he is brought down by a relationship with a woman.

I did enjoy reading how today's technology is used by the corporation to track Charlie's every move by GPS, and his electronic purchasing, via Ackerman, the corporate version of Big Brother. That part held my attention. I started to zone out on the philosophical meanderings. Heck, I even started counting how many times Charlie said, "Heck." I probably wouldn't have noticed if he had said, "Damn" fourteen times, or if Andy Griffith hadn't died while I was reading it. (Gawleee, Sheriff Taylor)

I didn't like the ending. I was spoiled by Katniss Everdeen.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
Review by: Kim Pyrros on Aug. 29, 2012 :
I received this book for free through the goodreads ARR program and I must say it is a fantastic book. Intelligent use of references to "Atlas Shrugged" by Ann Raynd make it a possible sequel to the world begun in her novel. The author presents us with a fantastic dystopian world created when government fails and "The Corporation" and capitalism rules the world. Everything has a "price" and people are valued only for what they can provide or produce. Even the body can be used in death to pay debts accumulated in life. BRILLIANT!
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
Review by: Lily on Aug. 11, 2012 :
This book really reminded me of a movie I recently watched with Justin Timberlake called 'In Time' (2011). This movie is set in a futuristic age where people live to the age of 25, then a clock on their wrist activates and counts down a year. Time is actually the currency of this world, and you work to get more time, you use time to buy the things you need, etc. It was actually really really good so I recommend you check it out.

The reason why I am bringing this up is that in this movie, there is a 'system'. The 'system' is what makes the world revolve. This 'system' is what dictates the ways of life, how it categorizes people, how it controls people. And in 'The Water Thief', such a 'system' exists.

People are brainwashed to believe certain things. They are pawns in a game that only the ones holding the power can win. In some cases, the ruthless will rise to hold some of that power. It is a cut throat, dog-eat-dog world. But there are a select group of people that know the truth, and want to rebel or beat the system. They gather in dark corners, 'off the grid', and plan on how it can be done, and prepare for it. They infiltrate the enemy to gather as much information as possible, lying patiently in wait for that moment... that moment when the plan is activated and they can be free of the 'system' and open the eyes of the world. Are they completely over their heads? Is it hopeless? Is it a suicide mission? Can it really be done?

Ahhhhh won't be telling you here. You will have to find out for yourself and pick up this novel.

I was not wowed by 'The Water Thief'. There was enough action to keep my interest. But my biggest problem with this novel was how preachy it felt. There was a lot of discussion, especially in the last third of this novel, about the evils of their society (or the system) that felt very repetitive. It was somewhat beneficial to understand the system that governed this society... but it went on and on for a while. I am an action girl. Long speeches make me yawn and go for a nap!

Without a doubt, this was a well written, and thought provoking dystopian novel, which for the most part, I did enjoy. The action scenes were fluent, believable and definitely elevated my heart rate. It was a world that struck a fearful chord... it was not a pleasant place.

The character development was excellent! I was very emotionally invested in some characters, while really disliking others... which by the way, is a big factor in why I am so conflicted with the ending. That is all that I can say about the ending without having to enter big spoilers... just... was conflicted.

It is definitely worth a look and I would recommend it to readers that are into dystopian novels.

*I received a eBook copy of this book for free to review from the author; this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.*
(reviewed 84 days after purchase)
Review by: Stephanie Wolf on July 8, 2012 :
In a futuristic society where one is ruled by Corporations, everything costs caps, even rainwater and air.

Sarah Aisling, who once was very well off but decided that was no life, stole rainwater and was arrested for her crime. Charles Thatcher decided this was something to write about, as that was his job at Ackerman Brothers Securities, finding topics for stories and getting paid for it.

The more he thought about it, the more it intrigued him. He began to dig deeper into her past. When he could not locate her, he found her best friend Kate. Charles and Kate became friends and she showed him the other side, where those less fortunate found a way to survive.

Ackerman Brothers did not like what Charles was doing. His colleagues became concerned about him and his doings. You will have to read for yourself to see which side wins out, if any at all.
(reviewed 35 days after purchase)
Review by: Martha Bryce on June 24, 2012 :
This is not a fun easy beach read but if I had my way, it would be on every high school required reading list. A futuristic, dystopian society, where all is valued according to its value, real or perceived to the corporation, The Water Thief carries within it the warning of the seeds that we Americans are sowing for our future generations. This is fiction that could easily become reality if we, the individuals, do not make the effort to change the seeds being sown. In its own way, it carries the same type of terrible truth that George Orwell foresaw in the classic 1984. Read this book and then think about it - deeply, frequently and with your mind and eyes wide open. Consider the economic crisis of the past several years where we have had to bail out corporations who had made many, many terrifying deals, only on paper that left people without homes, transportation or employment. The corporate executives were all fine and lost very little, but the poor, undereducated, stupid people got the devastating losses they deserved. Read this book and weep or read this book and change.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Review by: Visakh C R on June 23, 2012 :
Ever since H.G.Wells wrote When the Sleeper Wakes, dystopian societies have been a favorite subject amongst authors and readers alike. Twentieth century's writers painted vivid pictures of multitide of such societies and they let our imagination run wild.

After Battle Royale of Koushun Takami in 1999, the standard of dystopian literature took a deep plunge. With the release of the The Hunger Games trilogy, the quality of such works reached an all time low. The success of such books also make us wonder whether we are going through 'The Twilight' of dystopian fiction.

The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter is a fresh relief. The plot is simple, and it takes us through the monotonous life of Charles Thatcher, an employee of a corporate giant, which controls almost every business. Every aspect of life is measured in 'caps' (or money), which warns us of a near future when clean water and air will be charged. Charles meets a woman, and she helps him to see through the corruption and greed, and makes him think of a free life. The culmination of the events is quite unexpected, and also difficult to guess. I would say that it was quite a cliffhanger.

But the distintive aspect of this book is the themes of business, corruption, greed, freedom and human life, which is explained quite in detail by the author. It can get quite complicated at sometimes, and I had to turn back the pages and read again. But this aspect of the book is what makes it stand out amongst such similar works.

Like I said before, the ending is quite unexpected. After watching Inception, I left the theatre with a heavy heart, trying to guess whether it was all a dream or reality. Similarly, when I reached the last page in my Kindle, I swiped it many times trying to find whether I had missed any pages. It's quite an ending, and I had a go for a short drive around the city to calm my mind.

To sum up, this is one of the best dystopian novel I have ever read. If you are fan of Battle Royale, The Running Man, I am Legend (movie), 28 Days Later (movie), this is a must read. If you are one of the 'those' fans of The Hunger Games, then read this book to understand what is really meant by a dystopian work of fiction. If Hunger Games is Twilight, then The Water Thief is Dracula.
(reviewed 19 days after purchase)
Review by: Mineliz Medina on June 22, 2012 :
The story was well written and so believable that with slight alterations much of this could take place in today times. The water thief is great example people being complacent in there every day life's. Soilent Green and 1984 have nothing on the water thief. Bravo Nicholas well done.
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
Review by: Yve on June 20, 2012 :
What an incredibly intelligent and interesting read! The world building was well-developed and very believable for a possible future. A future completely controlled by corporations in which citizens are classified by how useful they are to the corporation they are tied to. A future where everyone's perceptions of the world they live in are closely monitored and manipulated by the ruling corporations. A future where the corporations are the ruling power; governments have been long since wiped out as inefficient. A future where everything, including the rainwater and the air are commodities that each citizen must pay for.

The protagonist, Charlie Thatcher, has been working for one of the ruling corporations as one of their perception manipulators. He is your Everyman, the one who goes to work, spending his days in a cubicle, trying to stay ahead of bills, etc. He has fully bought into the system until a small story of a woman accused of stealing (rain)water falls into his lap. This story, the inciting event, changes Charlie's world forever.

The characters feel wonderfully human. There are none that are flatly good nor flatly bad. They are all just doing what they believe is the right thing to do.

There are several factors I look at when I rate a book 5 stars. I found this book hard to put down, which is one of the primary factors. I also consider character development, world building and whether I feel there was some type of growth and/or change. This novel certainly fulfilled those criteria. It is, also, very well-written. The only reason, albeit a minor one, that I'm not giving a full 5-star rating is the editing could have been run through one more time. There are a few errors that made me have to stop and reread a sentence or two.

I received this book from the author through Smashwords for free. I thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and review this.
(reviewed 13 days after purchase)
Review by: Megan Williams on June 14, 2012 :
In a sentence: The Water Thief is a rather serious dystopian novel!

The Characters

I truly enjoyed all of the characters in this book. The main dude, Charles, is literally the poster man for a normal bloke and it’s only with the catalyst of the woman who vanishes that he starts to rethink his perception of the world around him.

I could relate to every single character in this book. They were all flawed in ways that were very real and very human – nothing dramatic, but qualities that you can easily recognise in anyone nowadays; selfishness, naivety, ignorance, etc. Obviously they (almost) all have good qualities too, but sometimes I feel that it’s difficult to find stories where characters aren’t either 100% good and decent, or completely, shockingly horrible. The characters in The Water Thief were all ones that I could understand, and I loved that, although none of them were particularly exciting and with the exception of Charles, it felt very like ‘what you see is what you get’.

The World

The setting in The Water Thief is an extreme capitalist society. We know that there are varying ‘grades’ of person, and where they live/socialise/etc is defined by their grade, akin to the film “Time”, or perhaps a slightly less dramatic version of The Hunger Games. What is more interesting is the presentation of a world where everything has value and must be paid for – including air! Even a person’s future has a value and they are literally owned by the corporation they work for, as is everyone around them. They can’t simply get up and leave, because said corporation would hunt them down in order to collect on their investment – plus, they’ve never know any better, so they don’t really understand cause to fight against it.

Most people are barely able to survive on their income – including Charles, who we come to understand has a decent job and makes a relatively good living compared to others. So essentially, there is this society where everything people do is defined by their ambition, and arguably their need to climb the ranks and obtain more security, and the material possessions that they covet. Inevitably, this doesn’t make for a very pleasant existence; friendships are nonexistent and families are limited.

But it doesn’t have to be that way... or does it? I won’t deprive you of finding out!

I hope you’re not confused; I did admittedly find myself to be as I read the story and sussing out the world it was set in was difficult. It took me a while to fully understand what was actually going on and I felt there was a lack of detailed world-building.

The Story

This was not an easy read, but then it is hugely political... soooo no surprise there! You do get the sense that the author is highly anti-capitalist. I would probably say that I didn’t really enjoy reading this, but it was beneficial as it certainly made me think about my perception of society as it is and that is always good!

The majority of this book is rather uneventful; it consists of discussion concerning the way things are in society, the way things were and the way things should be, between Charles and various other characters, or in Charles’s own mind, but then that is probably the nature of this kind of book. It was indeed interesting and without a doubt thought provoking, but it did not have me turning the pages in any sort of hastened manner until roughly the 70-75% mark, where we get some semblance of action. The ending was, I felt, appropriately ambiguous.

In some respects, I’ve never been less sure of how I felt after reading a book. I liked the ending, I found the story intriguing and the issues did interest me, but it didn’t draw me in as a piece of fiction. I probably would’ve stopped at the 20% mark if I wasn’t determined to finish books I read!

My Favourite Quote

“It was as if the man had been born an adult, in his suit, and he wore it like armour, like he was bulletproof.”

It’s not the most philosophical, or interesting, or well written quote in the book – but I just love that imagery. I mean, come on, if you’re going to wear a suit, THAT is how to do it.

Other Thoughts

I’m probably not exactly the target audience for this book as it is likely better suited to those who are more informed about extremist capitalist societies and have formed a better personal idea of what they believe – these are generally not the ethical or philosophical questions which I have concerned myself with yet. But hey, a book should be able to be read by anyone, right?!
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)

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