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Book Review: How to Pack for the End of the World

How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff Pub Date: 10 Nov 2020 read courtesy of http://netgalley.com Put five different competitive high schoolers together to see who can survive hypothetical apocalyptic disasters, and you get five unique interesting challenges. Falkoff crafted an entertaining story that expertly incorporated five different characterizations into the survival scenarios. I found some fairly profound truths in this story that resonated with me: (1) "I hated that I tended to assume people were straight unless they indicated otherwise." (2) "Funny how different it felt, having a crush versus liking someone who liked you back. I'd had butterflies with Hunter, but they'd made me feel a little bit sick. Wyatt made me feel nothing but happy." (3) "We'd been so fixated on managing big-picture problems that we hadn't yet learned how to deal with the day-to-day complexities of being ourselves..." Unfortunately, the author used some standard YA story formulas that I tend to dislike. For example the characters don't tell others how they feel but then expect others to be mind readers and act a certain way. In addition, this author actually comes out and has a character articulate another overused plot line "...where we need to help ourselves because the adults weren't going to be of much use." Throughout the book, the lead character Amina frequently claims she doesn't know her friends as well as they know her. The purpose of this characterization is so she can eventually prove she does end up knowing one her friends better than her other friends do. The repetitive self-deprecation, however, is annoyingly tedious. Nonetheless, I like the ending in which the characters learn to be " ...less concerned with what we put in our go-bags and more about how to use cooperation and empathy to prevent the things we were so scared of from happening." I only wish that Falkoff had listened to her own advice. Why was it necessary for her to call out 'Republican' vs. 'Democrat' in a doomsday scenario in which a Republican was so "unpopular" that he got elected for a third and fourth term? Since the good messages outweigh the trite precepts, I will enjoy putting this book into the hands of my high schoolers.

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