January 10, 2012

Waiting for disaster to strike

By Lucas Klauss
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When 15-year-old Phillip hurts his foot on a cross-country run, he hides to avoid sadistic Coach Farragut, aka “Ferret,” and meets the most amazing girl. Rebekah seems to like him back, and so he ends up at her church youth group, an activity he hides from his atheist dad. Not that Dad would notice, having finally decided to clean out a basement full of emergency supplies laid in by Phillip's mother, who has since died. The entire family has raised not talking about that to an art form. Lucas Klauss titled his first novel Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse; the way things pile up on Phillip, it seems like it might come at any time.

As Phillip gets more involved in Rebekah's church, his relationships with everyone around him change. His best friends are beginning to branch out, one into new friendships with a couple of Grade-A jerks. The other is into girls . . . possibly including Rebekah. Things get ugly. Punches are thrown. And some things are damaged that can never be repaired.

Phillip is a likable guy, smart and funny, and it's easy to root for him to do the right thing. Much harder is figuring out exactly what that is. Does he really believe the things in the pamphlets he's been handing out, which would alienate almost everyone in his life? Is he truly seeking God, or just trying to win over a hot girl? And what does she think about all this? Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse is wise about the misunderstandings we hang onto and the ways we fail to understand one another in both friendship and love.

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