Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse Review
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Anyone who’s lived through the teen years can tell you how tough they can be. You’re trying to figure out who you are and who your friends are. You’re trying to distance yourself from your parents while dealing with all sorts of situations that, if you’re truly honest with yourself, they could probably help you survive. And, as if all that weren’t bad enough, you’re also trying to find that one person who likes you for who you are (whoever that may be). At times, it feels like the end of the world. But after reading all about it in Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by author Lucas Klauss, you might feel like the Apocalypse would be a welcome turn of events.

Phillip Flowers is a pretty normal teenager. He enjoys hanging out with his two best friends, and he runs cross country (though, admittedly, not very well). Then, one day, he meets Rebekah, and everything changes.

Rebekah is a fellow cross country runner—an unconventionally hot cross country runner. So when she takes an interest in Phillip and invites him to her church’s youth group, he jumps at the chance to spend time with her. Soon, he finds himself caught up in Rebekah’s world—while, in the process, lying to his dad, struggling with his friendships, and trying to come to grips with his mother’s death.

It may be a pretty accurate portrayal of the average teenager’s emotional rollercoaster, but that doesn’t make Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse an enjoyable read. It’s loaded with teen drama: bickering (and even fist fights) among friends, frustration with family, and the ups and downs of dating. Again, it’s all realistic stuff, but it’s absolutely exhausting. And no matter what kind of breakthroughs Phillip may reach in the end, it just feels dreary and bitter—and anything but encouraging.

Meanwhile, though most young adult novels try to give readers some kind of admirable hero, Phillip is weak and wishy-washy. He’s too heavily influenced by those around him, and he seems to change his mind with every turn of the page. Even when he does make a decision in the end, he basically decides not to decide. And that makes his story all the more frustrating to read.

At the same time, the story offers a troubling image of religion. It spends a lot of time at Rebekah’s church—and, in the process, it seems to come to the conclusion that religion is nothing more than a crutch. It’s for the weak, the crazy, the depressed, the judgmental, and the naďve. It makes people do crazy—and sometimes hurtful—things. The characters that Phillip meets there are mean or pushy or simply using their faith to try to fill some other void in their lives. None, it seems, are kind or caring or even relatively well-adjusted. The only one who comes close is Rebekah’s friend, Amanda, who’s constantly portrayed as obnoxiously perky and relentlessly pushy. Granted, you’ll find a variety of people—both good and bad—in any environment, but if this is truly Klauss’s view of religion and religious people, it’s pretty sad.

With so much drama—and such negative attitudes toward just about everything and everyone—Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse is a grueling and even disheartening read. It may offer a mostly realistic portrayal of the life of a teenager, but it certainly isn’t an uplifting or encouraging survival guide. Instead, it will probably make most teen readers all the more morose.

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