I’m not a prepper. I’m not a survivalist. I’m a realist who plans to survive. Bex is determined to survive, whatever the crisis, whatever it takes—she knows exactly what to pack, she can shoot any gun, and she’s got plans to drag her family to safety by force, if necessary. So she’s intrigued when she discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does. So what if some people think they’re wackos? There’s nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn’t prepared for meeting Lucy, who complicates all of her careful plans. As secrets at Clearview begin to mount and the pieces of Bex’s life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie — and what it’ll really take to survive.
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.