November 21, 2017
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The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.
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.
Just when I was starting Not Now, Not Ever I got a bit of news that felt sort of like . . .well this:
Which wouldn't matter except that I think it's why I didn't realize how this book and The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You connected. I knew they were supposed to but somehow I did not connect the characters from the first book with those (now older) ones here. That lets me tell you that I did not love these characters simply because of their connection to or presence in the earlier book.
But I did really, really, really love them and I love the book as a whole more now that I do remember. So, you do not have to read The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You first - this is much more a companion book than a sequel - but I recommend that you do. Actually, read them one right after the other for maximum:
I have so, so much love for Ever. From her take on time travel and it's issues around language (Then again, I wanted an Oxford linguistics textbook because of something Doctor Who made me look up . . . .) to her math grade ("I knew I was smart, but I'd only pulled a B minus in geometry.") to her desire that science fiction and fantasy not mix (at least on bookshelves).
The mix of familial expectations, personal goals and dreams, a camp of geniuses, and the contrast between the military discipline of parts of Ever's family and the summer at Rayevich College made for a very full, enjoyable, memorable and compelling story.
There was a great collection of characters - both those you may already know from TOTWTMIY and new ones - with a myriad of reasons for attending the summer program. Their personalities, how seriously they took things, their motivation for being there and how they interacted with each other made for a lot of fun but also for believable, realistic relationships and frictions.
Now Now, Not Ever is a fantastic second novel that does a really great job bringing in characters from Anderson's first book but making them older so they can play a different role in this story and so that the focus is really on Ever (and that boy on the cover, too!). Lily Anderson's characters are brilliant and
Oh, and of course Ever can like Firefly but not Buffy but, I do so here's a random Buffy GIF::
digital review copy received via NetGalley thanks to publisher