Judging a book by its title never seemed as wrong as judging it by its cover. Usually, marketing gets in the way and produces a cover that doesn’t reflect the story that well. But with titles, they tend to be more spot on. Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse was an eGalley saved on my computer. I never really know what the eGalleys on my computer are about. I just save them to eventually read one day. Hence, I usually judge them on their titles. Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse’s title intrigued me. I figured I was in the mood for some end-of-the-world action. I was also thinking that maybe some cool zombies and other creatures would be included in this story.
I was wrong. Like completely wrong. But I’m not upset about it. Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse may not have been what I expected, but it’s a great and interesting book, better than whatever I was expecting.
So what is Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse about? Well, it’s about Phillip, a fifteen-going-on-sixteen teenager, who has a fascination with end-of-the-world scenarios. The story begins when he hurts his ankle during cross-country practice. In an effort to avoid humiliation from his relentless coach, Ferret, he tries to hide in someone’s yard right off the trail. That yard belongs to Rebekah, an “unconventionally hot” girl that finds Phillip. Ferret catches him anyway, and Rebekah helps Phillip get out of trouble by saying that she invited him to a Christian youth group meeting. Phillip, obviously smitten with Rebekah, agrees to go to the meeting, even though he’s hardly religious. From there on, Phillip confusedly embraces the religion in order to impress those around him and maybe seek some answers for himself.
Obviously, religion is a huge theme in this story. I will admit that, at times, I won’t read a book if it’s too religious. Religion, in general, makes people uncomfortable. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It pretty much conveys that whole point. Phillip isn’t comfortable with religion; he’s not even comfortable with himself. After the loss of his mother, Phillip has pushed down feelings of guilt. He has little confidence and hasn’t really come to terms with his mother’s death or his place in the world. He’s pretty lost. When he’s introduced to Christianity, he embraces it, only at first to impress Rebekah, but then he starts to take it more seriously.
Author Lucas Klass took an interesting character and put him in an interesting situation. Reading Phillip’s transformation was a bit therapeutic. He goes from one end of the spectrum to the other end, and finally finds middle ground. It made me reflect on my own life and beliefs. It didn’t force Christianity down my throat (Not that it would’ve mattered, 12 years of Catholic school already did that for me).
It is such a big risk talking about religion in young adult literature. As a whole, many young adults don’t have a strong relationship with God, and sometimes they don’t want to be reminded of God or religion. To be honest, I can be one of those people. However, I was able to appreciate Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse. It did make me think, but it didn’t force me to think or tell me to do or believe anything. In a way, you almost leave the story with the same feelings as Phillip. That’s what I really loved about this story. Like me, I hope that people judge this book unknowingly by its title, thinking they’ll get some end-of-the-world thriller and find themselves experiencing a story that is a lot more meaningful and worthwhile.
Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse releases January 3, 2012. You can pre-order at our TYF store!