What if you were a teen growing up in a family prepping for doomsday? How would their lifestyle cramp your own chances to figure out your preferences and find your talents? In Bethany Mangle’s debut novel Prepped, you’ll discover how one competent young woman with ideas of her own copes with the oppression of a family obsessed with the end of the world.
When we first meet Becca Aldaine she is struggling through a cold-water survival exercise with three other teens, including the boy her parents have picked to be her life partner. Her performance is not a success, so her father sends her to the bunker to spend the night, a place where she is “…buried alive. Grounded.” Becca is bright, competent, and in love with physics. Rather than marrying Roy Kang, she wants to study physics at Carnegie Mellon University. While her physics teacher agrees with her choice, her parents want her to carry on the family legacy, living their survivalist lifestyle. As it turns out, she’s not the only one who wants to leave the madness behind and carve out her own life, free of disaster drills.
When a drunk driver slams into her domineering father’s truck, a scenario they had never planned for, the Aldaine family’s world twists and turns. Becca’s mother is the new head of this doomsday cult and her younger sister Katie is training for survival. Becca’s hopes of a life at Carnegie Mellon evaporate, since she wants to protect her little sister from this cult of obsessive maniacs prepping for an end that may never come in their lifetimes.
Becca’s life is full of contradictions, which makes sense since the prepper’s code states, “Always be ready for the worst day of your life.” It takes her clever mind and Roy’s unexpected support to find a way out.
Like any good YA, Prepped has teenage characters that people of all ages will identify with. Mangle’s story thrusts them into unexpected, atypical situations and gives them the tools to resolve the issues they face without adult help. Mangle writes with grit, beauty and an admirable sense of ease. Her words will draw you into Becca’s world, which is filled with humor unless you’re living in it. Whether you are a teen or an adult, she might just have you examining ways to escape whatever eats away at your soul. Becca’s experiences will motivate you to become or stay strong, whole, and happy. Like her, you might make some new plans to become the person you were meant to be.