Not Now, Not Ever
Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.
1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.
What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?
This summer's going to be great.
A few things I adored about this book:
-The academic competition- No one writes cutthroat academia like Anderson. Teens feeling the stress of college applications, scholarships, rankings, and more will find Ever’s world utterly relatable.
-The voice- From page one, the voice draws you right in. The dialogue is quick and realistic with plenty of snappy banter.
-The world building- Usually the fantasy genre discusses world building the most, but in my opinion, good world building/setting is just as crucial in contemporary books. Anderson crafts a fully immerse setting with more than a sprinkle of geek culture, The Importance Of Being Earnest parallels, and what it’s like when a group of highly intelligent teens compete for a scholarships away from home.
Overall, Anderson’s second novel (and first and third and likely all future novels...) is not to be missed.