Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.
1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.
What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?
This summer's going to be great.
Lily Anderson’s debut is one of my favorite contemps of all time, so naturally I was over the moon to find out there would be a companion novel and it did not disappoint.
Admittedly, we got off to a rough start – it took a bit for the voice to grab me and there are a lot of characters to initially keep track of, but it finally pulled me in at about the 20% mark and I couldn’t put it down after that.
Not Now, Not Ever is a cleverly written story. The plot is engaging with an almost perfect balance between the academic competition and the mystery of whose sabotaging the campers and the very realistic (and relatable) personal struggle Ever is facing as she decides what path she wants to take & how to reconcile the differences between what she wants out of life and what her family expects.
The story is also wonderfully diverse with fantastic teens calling out other teens on the stupid things they say and YES LOVE IT GIMME MORE. Most of the characters felt fully developed, if a little stereotypical at times. I’M STILL WAITING FOR LILY TO WRITE ME A MURDER MYSTERY WITH PERLA AS THE VICTIM. I really loved the friendships that formed and THE SHIP MY GOD. SUCH CUTE AND FEELS AND PERFECTION. The ending was also one of my favorite things about the story. Nothing wraps up nicely but it’s still so realistic and satisfying.
I definitely recommend this if you like your fiction with messy characters and tons of nerdy references.