Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 402
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: Phillip’s sophomore year is off to a rough start. One of his best friends ditches him for a group of douchebags. His track coach singles him out for personalized, torturous training sessions. And his dad decides to clean out all of the emergency supplies from the basement, even though the world could end in disaster at any moment... and even though those supplies are all Phillip has left of his dead mom. Not that he wants to talk about that.
But then Phillip meets Rebekah. Not only is she unconventionally hot and smart, but she has seriously great boobs. And she might like him back.
As Phillip gets closer to Rebekah, he tries harder and harder to turn himself into the kind of person he thinks she wants him to be. But the question is, can he become that person? And does he really want to?

I read this book entirely based on how much I loved the cover. I basically had no idea what I was getting into--after I read the description, I thought that I was going to be reading about the wacky adventures of a teenage boy attempting to get the girl he liked. I think that this is one time that the book flap summary is to blame, and not my horrific tendency to skim the summaries and make assumptions without careful reading (hello, The Way We Fall).
Phillip is your everyday teenage boy. He’s not popular, but he’s not unpopular either. When he meets Rebekah, an unconventionally hot girl, he attempts to spend time with her by going to her church’s youth group--something that would make his atheist father’s head spin. Through the people he encounters there, along with memories of his dead mother whose Rapture preparations are still taking up space in his basement and some fights with friends along the way, Phillip ends up learning a lot about himself and what roles faith and religion play in his life--if they have a role at all.
Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse was way deeper and serious than I previously thought it was going to be. Klauss takes on a whole bunch of religion and faith-related questions that run far deeper than what the summary explains. I thought he handled these questions deftly. He doesn’t make grand judgments on religion as a whole. The only thing he took issue with was intolerance in general. I’m not particularly religious at all, but I always appreciate it when someone can question a touchy subject like religion without being disrespectful about it. My favorite quote was:
This was the best handling of religion in a young adult book I have seen since I read Melissa Walker’s Small Town Sinners last year (which I recommend, only don’t be fooled by the title, it’s not as salacious as it sounds).
There were multiple layers to this story. Two of the main conflicts--Philip being introduced to religion after living with his father’s ardent atheism for so long and him dealing with the loss of his mother over the course of the novel--were very interconnected and unraveled in an interesting way. There would be chapters where Philip would flash back to his earlier years when his mother was still alive and explain the familial conflicts that led to their situation. These pieces of the books were very strong and definitely overshadowed Philip’s attempt to attract Rebekah and his failing friendship with one of his two best friends. These were also well developed plot points, but they just weren’t the main focus. Random thought: I disliked Rebekah. If this book is re-released as a paperback, I think that they should revise the summary to explain how important the concepts of religion and faith have major impact on the plot.
Lucas Klauss’s Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse was a great contemporary read with a totally different plot. I also think that you should know about the issues involved with faith and religion before going into it.

Rating: 4 - good.

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