Release Date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
“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.“
Becca’s childhood has been unusual, to say the least. Raised by preppers, she has learned hardcore survival skills and is expected to enter into an arranged marriage with a boy in her community. Her choices are not her own; they belong to the entire community.
Despite the tagline on the book – “There’s no survival guide for falling in love.” – Prepped isn’t a standard YA romance. There is romance, but just as much humor, drama, and tragedy. Becca’s blossoming relationship with Roy Kang forms the backbone of the story, but there is way more going on than two teenagers rather unexpectedly falling for each other. The romance is sweet and fun, despite the heavy themes shadowing Becca and Roy. Their growth, both romantically and personally, is a big part of what makes the book so enjoyable.
The ending felt rushed compared to the rest of the book, with several plot points getting tied up into tidy bows seemingly all at once. I would’ve liked to spend more time in the harrowing parts near the climax to really feel the experience. And some of the actions of the adults, both within and without the prepper community, felt more like plot devices rather than genuine behavior.
However, overall, I enjoyed Prepped. Survivalist groups don’t get much cover in YA fiction, so it’s nice to have some more representation there. I also appreciated Roy being a Korean American male love interest for Becca, especially since Bethany Mangle herself is Korean American. The story moves quickly and is engaging and entertaining. Roy and Becca are richly developed and nuanced characters who are easy to root for. Prepped is a solid debut from an author who I am excited to see more from.
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Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.