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.
I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
If you’re the kind of person who loves reading about or watching documentaries about survivalists or preppers, then pay attention: because Prepped by Bethany Mangle may the kind of book that you’re looking for. This YA thriller-comedy debut follows Becca, a white-American teen whose family leads a doomsday community. Though her parents are passionate about the cause, Becca longs for escape – taking her younger sister with her – but when tragedy strikes, her doomsday community falls deeper into their doomsday ideology and escape becomes more difficult.
So why should you read this book? Well, I have five awesome reasons why.
1. It delves into doomsday ideology and psychology
If you enjoy reading stories that delve into the unusual and desperate psychology behind doomsday communities, then you’ll enjoy this book. While Becca is part of the community, she hasn’t been sucked into doomsday survivalism (unlike her parents), though from her perspective, we witness and discover the dangerous and fallacious ideology that fuels the community. From cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, we see how the community falls into itself and their self-fulfilling prophecies.
2. The story balances humour with sombre moments
Despite the darker subject matter and the shocking things that happen in the story, Prepped is told with a humorous tone. Mangle mixes dead-pan and shock humour, in a way that makes you laugh even though what is happening is incredible in a shocking way. From the funny quips from our narrator, Becca, and the melodrama – though, the drama is actually serious in reality – make this book an easier read (without undermining the serious moments).
3. Well-paced with lots of drama and high stakes to keep you entertained
Prepped is well-paced, which makes it easy and enjoyable reading. Furthermore, if you love plenty of drama and those moments of dread – because how could things get worse? – then you will enjoy the tone and pace of Prepped. Furthermore, the tension builds and builds as the story progresses, as the stakes of Becca’s escape get higher and more dangerous, and the climax is absolutely wild and satisfying.
4. The story explores family – but not in a way that we usually see
I love stories that explore family, and often I gravitate towards book that show that ‘family is everything’. In Prepped though, I really enjoyed that the story leans into it but ultimately subverts that. The family dynamics in this book are fantastic and deliberate; fraught with so much tension and a mounting feeling of dread, making Becca’s personal journey incredibly fascinating. I felt like how the story concludes, and the choices that Becca makes her with her family, were well-explored and ultimately satisfying.
5. Ultimately, this book is about identity
I think the heart of this book is how Becca grapples with her identity as someone being part of the doomsday community and that, try as she might (she goes to school, she tries to make friends, and she just wants to go to college), she is avoided by her peers because that’s the identity imposed on her. Therefore, her desire to leave is more than just ‘leaving’ – it’s also about escaping the trauma of her family and community’s brainwashing and trying to forge a new path – and identity – for herself.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: A white-American teen whose family is part of a doomsday community, and desperately wants to escape, especially when things start to get serious when tragedy strikes.
Perfect for: Readers who love stories that blend humour with drama; readers interested in doomsday communities; readers who would love a fast-paced book
Think twice if: You’re not a fan of dark humour in storytelling.
Genre: young adult contemporary thriller comedy
Trigger/content warning: abuse, death of a loved one