For fans of Jeff Zentner and Katie Henry comes a thrilling and funny debut about a teen raised in a doomsday community who plots her escape with the boy from the bunker next door. 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 dreams are changed after an accident that leaves her father in the hospital and her cruel mother in charge of the settlement. Though Becca thought things could not get any worse, her mother and her new policies seem determined to prove her wrong. Now, Becca must consider her fourth grade sister and her future in the same breath. When she learns that the boy to which she has been engaged, Roy, may not be the faithful disciple of prepping he appears to be, Becca's plans begin to evolve.
What I loved: This was a really fascinating look at prepping and the challenges that being in such a community can create. Becca is also dealing with neglect, as her mother will not provide the small necessities she and her sister need nor do any caregiving. Between the challenges/training and the other issues Becca faces, there are definite child abuse problems that become a major theme of the book. In such abusive situations, it can be impossible to leave, and the book does a great job of showing the challenges on all sides of that decision.
The romance was a smaller part of the book, but I really enjoyed the dynamics between Becca and Roy. Although it starts off a bit rough, as they have been basically told they will marry without any choice, their relationship does grow from their shared experience, and I loved it. I also really loved Katie, Sydney, and Becca's teacher who helps to make things possible. There are some really great characters in this book. A running theme through the book is hope, and the tone remains hopeful throughout.
Final verdict: PREPPED is a compelling read about hope, love, and plans. Ultimately a moving story of surviving and escaping abuse, this was a thought-provoking book that kept me captivated throughout.