Prepped by Bethany Mangle
Book Review by Elizabeth
Prepped by Bethany Mangle was finally something new on the shelf. Surrounded at every angle by the same boring “quirky love story” made this novel seem like a breath of fresh air. Little did I know of the, let’s just say experience that awaited me.
The book opens on a survival training lesson, one of the many painful and dangerous drills Becca Aldaine has endured. She and her family lived in a part of their suburban Ohio neighbourhood that was filled with people paranoid of the inevitable apocalypse that could strike at any second now. Any second now. Any second…now. Well, the important part was that they were prepared, right? Even if that meant submitting children as early as thirteen into freezing duck ponds, tiny crawl spaces, and spending any disposable change for supplies for their two underground bunkers, able to function independently for three years. Point was, life sucked, and this was apparent to Becca more and more as she got older. Not to mention the arranged marriages all residents were forced to oblige by, and the compulsory children that came with it – just in case that the burden of repopulating the entire world came down to only them, you know? The usual stuff.
Becca’s plan was simple though, to get good grades, get a full-ride to her first choice college to study physics, and leave the world of doomsday maniacs behind. Unfortunately her father, the man in charge of the training sessions in their community and the number one advocate for prepped survival, gets put into a coma by crashing into a drunk driver – the one factor he couldn’t control. This leaves Becca’s mother in charge, who was arguably even worse of a leader than her father on account of her spite from being forced into this lifestyle she never wanted in the first place. Becca’s little sister, Katie, was also gravely affected by her father’s incident, to the point where she started giving in to the doomsday way of life and losing her childlike spark. Now, Becca is torn between pursuing the dreams she’d been working to achieve for twelve years, or taking care of her sister so as to not leave her in her mother’s hands. Even if she got accepted and had a like-minded boyfriend willing to help, nothing would come easy.
I personally felt as though this book was trying too hard to be The Hunger Games. From the cute little sister who is the most important person in the protagonist’s life, to Roy’s (Becca’s arranged boyfriend) overall demeanor resembling that of Peeta, and even the concept itself is playing into the dystopian society genre, but instead of the whole known world, it’s a small community. Speaking of the concept, it was pretty obvious to me it was the only real well-thought out part of this book. I really hate to say it, but this book lacked a lot of the creativity that could’ve made it such a better novel. The potential was immense, yet kind of wasted. Just for me to tell you the concept I alone had to read past half of the book to fully understand it, which is never a good sign. The book is full with unnecessary scenes of the characters going in and out of school, walking their dog or going to the mall to further the narrative to no end. It’s embarrassing that the actual story part of this story could fit in about 100 pages out of it’s 307. I would lose my train of thought so often, not because I didn’t try to pay attention, but because I simply don’t care about the bus ride to high school! This book captures your attention from the start with it’s thrilling training sessions, then loses you when the so-called narrative begins, only to regain it when another training session comes, and then again at the climax. For what it was worth, I enjoyed what little substance there was in this chip bag of mostly air, though I attribute this solely to my infamous reputation as a Hunger Games fangirl, a series this book is very poorly cosplaying as. If you’ve got time to kill, and I mean kill, go ahead and give it a read, it won’t hurt that much. However, if you prefer a brim-full chip bag as opposed to two thirds of air, I suggest you skip this one out. But who knows, maybe I’m just a bad reader.