Blurb from Goodreads
Always be ready for the worst day of your life
This is the mantra that Becca Aldaine has grown up with. Her family is part of a community of doomsday preppers, a neighborhood that prioritizes survivalist training over class trips or senior prom. They’re even arranging Becca’s marriage with Roy Kang, the only eligible boy in their community. Roy is a nice guy, but he’s so enthusiastic about prepping that Becca doesn’t have the heart to tell him she’s planning to leave as soon as she can earn a full ride to a college far, far away.
Then a devastating accident rocks Becca’s family and pushes the entire community, including Becca’s usually cynical little sister, deeper into the doomsday ideology. With her getaway plans thrown into jeopardy, the only person Becca can turn to is Roy, who reveals that he’s not nearly as clueless as he’s been pretending to be.
When Roy proposes they run away together, Becca will have to risk everything—including her heart—for a chance to hope for the best instead of planning for the worst.
For fans of Jeff Zentner and Katie Henry comes a thrilling and funny debut about a teen raised in a doomsday community who plots her escape with the boy from the bunker next door.
Prepped is certainly a unique read thematically. It follows the story of Becca Aldaine whose family are doomsday preppers. But Becca wants nothing to do with them. She feels trapped. All she wants is a normal existence away from her family and their dangerous trials that they subject her to. They have her future mapped out for her including what boy she should marry, fellow teenage doomsday prepper Roy, and what job she should have. But Becca’s dream is to go to university and live life on her terms.
But life is far from simple. Becca doesn’t know how to escape her family without leaving her younger sister Katie behind.
And that’s the driving plot of this novel. The love between sisters. And the sacrifices Becca will make to her own happiness just to protect Katie.
There was much to enjoy in this novel. It was a quick and engaging read with an incredibly interesting premise. But for me there was something lacking. I found the majority of the characters to be quite flat.
Becca’s relationship with her mother was especially strained with her mother being incredibly cold-hearted and detached. She believed that love got in the way of survival. And this depiction made Becca’s mother feel like a one dimensional pantomime villain. There was no light and shade. No nuance. And I ached to see some reason that made her act in such a singleminded fashion. She was too much like an automaton which I guess illustrates the brain washing she had endured since childhood… but it just made for an unsympathetic character and boring interactions with other characters.
The character of Roy was supposed to be this multilayered character who was one thing to Becca and another thing to his family… but it all felt so convenient. He didn’t display any believable sort of emotion. He was merely a convenient plot device rather than a character to empathise with.
Becca’s younger sister Katie was rather frustrating to read about. We were told of this great connection between the sisters… but again I never felt it. This was a novel where there was a lot of telling but no true showing of emotion.
But I will give credit to the depiction of Becca as a main character. She was interestingly sassy but with this great sense of vulnerability and brokenness. She certainly had a lot of emotional baggage which I would have enjoyed exploring more of. I really do think the ending of the novel left Becca’s character development down quite badly. There was all this build up with the emotional journey that Becca was going on (i.e. her understanding that to rescue her sister she needed to save herself first) but ultimately the ending turned into some sort of poorly conceived thriller that was incredibly rushed with no emphasis on the emotional fallout of the dramatic events.
Overall I liked the concept of this novel a lot. It was an easy and engaging read, but for me the novel lacked both characters that felt authentic and heart stirring emotion. I felt the plot tried to do too many things at once; at times it wanted to be a thriller, others a romance, and at others a coming of age story… and none of these ideas were ever fleshed out fully enough to give a truly satisfying reading experience.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 23rd February 2021, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing