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Radical
     

Radical

by E. M. Kokie
 

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Determined to survive the crisis she’s sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn’t planned for.

Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they’re all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex

Overview

Determined to survive the crisis she’s sure is imminent, Bex is at a loss when her world collapses in the one way she hasn’t planned for.

Preppers. Survivalists. Bex prefers to think of herself as a realist who plans to survive, but regardless of labels, they’re all sure of the same thing: a crisis is coming. And when it does, Bex will be ready. She’s planned exactly what to pack, she knows how to handle a gun, and she’ll drag her family to safety by force if necessary. When her older brother discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival just as seriously as she does, Bex is intrigued. While outsiders might think they’re a delusional doomsday group, she knows there’s nothing crazy about being prepared. But Bex isn’t prepared for Lucy, who is soft and beautiful and hates guns. As her brother’s involvement with some of the members of Clearview grows increasingly alarming and all the pieces of Bex’s life become more difficult to juggle, Bex has to figure out where her loyalties really lie. In a gripping new novel, E. M. Kokie questions our assumptions about family, trust, and what it really takes to survive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/27/2016
In this provocative novel, Kokie (Personal Effects) takes on the controversial subject of gun ownership in America. Sixteen-year-old Bex Mullin is obsessed with preparing for what she thinks is an inevitable catastrophe, spending as much time as possible honing her survival skills and marksmanship, despite her family’s open disapproval of her unfeminine appearance and hobbies. When Bex joins Clearview, a group of people with similar interests, she finds a measure of acceptance, but after she falls for Lucy, who wants nothing to do with guns or training, Bex struggles to reconcile the different aspects of her life. It all comes to a head when the government takes an interest in Bex and her family, and she has to decide what’s more important: protecting herself or relatives who have never supported her. Kokie writes with nuanced sympathy, condemning the government’s heavy-handed tactics and Bex’s tunnel vision, contrasting her need for self-sufficiency with her desire to belong, and examining gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s a complex recipe of volatile ingredients that Kokie uses to deliver an unsettling story that’s both timely and necessary. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Kokie writes with nuanced sympathy, condemning the government’s heavy-handed tactics and Bex’s tunnel vision, contrasting her need for self-sufficiency with her desire to belong, and examining gender identity and sexual orientation. It’s a complex recipe of volatile ingredients that Kokie uses to deliver an unsettling story that’s both timely and necessary.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Readers of all sexual orientations will relate to Bex's intoxicated blend of nerves and anticipation regarding Lucy...Kokie takes her time developing characters and setting the plot in motion, creating a believable lesbian protagonist who wants to belong to a world that doesn't particularly want her. A hard, cleareyed look at coming of age in a prejudiced world.
—Kirkus Reviews

Kokie’s legal background lends verisimilitude and fascinating insight into prison life and legal strategy, while swift pacing pulls the reader deep into multiple plot twists. However, it’s Bex’s passionate, uninformed, awkward naïveté that drives the novel. Kokie’s sympathetic and believably flawed heroine’s first-person, present-tense narrative offers an intriguing portrait of a philosophy not often explored in teen fiction. Bex’s complex relationship with Lucy is particularly well depicted, but even secondary characters are well-handled.
—Booklist

This is a different kind of dystopia, where the threat to survival comes from an unexpected quarter, and the kickass girl has to save herself instead of a whole world. Give this to readers intrigued by the complex psychology of girls who don’t fit the traditional molds.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Radical is an intriguing novel featuring an LGBQT protagonist that challenges readers’ assumptions about family, trust, and what it truly takes to survive. Highlights include a unique main character, her acceptance of her identity, and the struggle of her family to accept her as she is. The premise of survival based on perceptions from the inside out will engage readers, especially with a militia theme scarcely explored in young adult fiction.
—VOYA

Readers are sure to be drawn in by Bex’s unusual perspective and her heart-wrenching, timely story.
—Horn Book

Kokie does an excellent job of tethering the reader firmly into her perspective, so that her revelations are our revelations.
—Lambda Literary

"Radical" offers both a suspenseful storyline and an in-depth exploration of what protecting oneself truly means.
—Chicago Tribune

VOYA, October 2016 (Vol. 39, No. 4) - Linsey Milillo
Sixteen-year-old Rebecca “Bex” Mullin defies labels. Considered a realist, she is determined to be prepared for the crisis she and her family are convinced is just on the horizon. She knows what to pack and how to handle a gun and vows to drag her family to safety no matter what. When her older brother Mark discovers Clearview, a group that takes survival as seriously as Bex does, she is intrigued and eager to enter the fray. What she is not prepared for is outsider Lucy and how she makes her feel. As Mark’s involvement with Clearview members becomes increasingly alarming, Bex finds it difficult to juggle the many aspects of her life and figure out where her loyalties lie. Radical is an intriguing novel featuring an LGBQT protagonist that challenges readers’ assumptions about family, trust, and what it truly takes to survive. Highlights include a unique main character, her acceptance of her identity, and the struggle of her family to accept her as she is. The premise of survival based on perceptions from the inside out will engage readers, especially with a militia theme scarcely explored in young adult fiction. Despite exploring relevant and important issues, flaws in structure, plot development, and fully realized characterization weigh down the narrative. Due to themes of violence, this is recommended for a mature reader but will appeal to those intrigued by “preppers,” survival, identity, and familial relationships. Reviewer: Linsey Milillo; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
07/01/2016
Gr 9 Up—Bex and her family are experiencing hard times. Her family moved in with her uncle Skip, and Bex helps him out at his garage and gas station. Her mother works multiple jobs to support the family. Bex, her father, and her brother, Mark, are doomsday preppers, though Bex pushes the most for the family to be prepared for imminent danger. When Mark is invited to a sportsman's club, Clearview, Bex is skeptical at first but eventually trains there regularly. She also meets Lucy at the gas station and begins a relationship with her that she keeps from her parents, because they don't approve of most of what Bex does—from homeschooling to her nonfeminine haircut to her training and shooting on her own. When Mark falls in with the wrong crowd at Clearview, he starts acting suspiciously and drops out. Soon, Mark is in deep trouble, resulting in the whole family being arrested and Bex being pressured to take the blame. Kokie takes on a lot of topics, including doomsday preppers and a lesbian navigating a conservative family and value system, but the book splinters when she is arrested. The plot becomes disjointed, and things get quickly and messily resolved. The book's length and the detailed descriptions of cleaning and shooting guns may lose the interest of some readers. VERDICT A worthy additional title.—Adrienne L. Strock, Nashville Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
2016-06-01
Bex struggles to find acceptance for her nontraditional gender expression and her sexual orientation within her family and within the doomsday survivalist community she longs to join.Since she's been at odds with her family over her survivalist interests in addition to her masculine appearance, her father's and brother's decisions to join a new survivalist organization surprise Bex. Joining them on visits to the organization's developing compound, Bex finds that her desire for fellowship overrides her concerns about some members' misogyny, homophobia, and racism (which suggests that the majority of the novel's cast is white). Even as her brother's behavior becomes increasingly erratic and aggressive, Bex is unwilling to consider the community's potential dark side. She's also distracted when Lucy arrives for the summer and presents Bex with her first opportunity for a lesbian relationship (though it remains a secret from other characters). Readers of all sexual orientations will relate to Bex's intoxicated blend of nerves and anticipation regarding Lucy. Many will also understand her instinctive motivation to maintain relationship harmony by minimizing her survivalist activities—though ultimately this becomes impossible. And then, quite suddenly, Bex can't avoid facing the dark truths of her family and chosen community. Kokie takes her time developing characters and setting the plot in motion, creating a believable lesbian protagonist who wants to belong to a world that doesn't particularly want her. A hard, cleareyed look at coming of age in a prejudiced world. (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763669621
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
09/13/2016
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
249,815
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile:
HL640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

E. M. Kokie is the author of Personal Effects, an American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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