Featured Review: Radical (E.M. Kokie)
About This Book:
Determined to survive the crisis she’s sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn’t planned for.
Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they’re all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She’s planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she’ll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they’re a delusional doomsday group, she knows there’s nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn’t prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother’s involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex’s life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie. In a gripping new novel, E. M. Kokie questions our assumptions about family, trust, and what it really takes to survive.
**Review Contributed by Eden Grey, Staff Reviewer**
Stands Apart from Other YA
RADICAL addresses a very relevant and timely topic through unique characters in a highly relatable setting. Bex is a survivalist, and she trains hard to be prepared for any extreme situation that might come her way. However, she isn't prepared for the dramatic changes coming over her older brother, or the sudden appearance of lovely Lucy in her summer routine.
Bex is a tomboy, and she owns it despite the pressure from her mother to be more girly. She loves guns and shooting, and is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about her hobbies. However, at times the writing gets bogged down by accounts of shooting at targets and ranges, gun mechanics, and descriptions of guns and other equipment. The initial exposition regarding these topics that will be unfamiliar to most readers is more than welcome, but the repetition of this exposition throughout the entire story really wears down a reader's interest.
The relationship between Bex and Lucy develops in a very natural way, and I enjoyed seeing this first romance bloom in Bex. The girls are very different, and when these differences become a problem it's dealt with in a very dramatic and interesting way. The differences between Bex and her family are not so well done. Her parents are outrageously selfish, so much that their dialogue and actions stopped being believable. Combined with the lack of a fleshed-out setting in Bex's hometown and rural haunts, the novel really fell short of my expectations.
The Verdict: A unique concept with interesting and diverse characters, RADICAL fell short in writing and setting qualities but stands apart from other YA fiction with its focus on gun rights and rural life.
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