Monday, August 29, 2016

We Are Unprepared

We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly
MIRA: 8/30/16
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780778319436

We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly is a story set in Vermont about a broken relationship and an impending superstorm. It's either so-so or recommended, depending upon what you can personally tolerate in a disaster/climate change/politically preachy/bad relationship/needy neighborhood child/debut novel.

Ash and Pia have moved from Brooklyn to Isole, Vermont, a town of 6,481 people. Their desire is to live a simpler life, sort of return to the land and rely on themselves. After being there for 3 months, the forecast of the impending disastrous superstorm is predicted, with as many as 30 hurricanes along with heatwaves, blizzards, drought, and fronts of various kinds. It's a climate change believer's dream, or er, natural expected outcome based on scientifically proven measurements.  Pia is a neurotic mess and teams up with local preppers, which Ash didn't know until after the fact. Ash wants to team up with local authorities.

The novel covers the current action, with Ash reflecting upon the past and his relationship with Pia. Ash admits at over half way through the drawn-out-too-long narrative that: "The truth is that Pia had always been impulsive. I worked hard to see her as a passionate free spirit, but I knew she had a tenuous grasp on sanity most of the time." Well, Ash, I had that figured out pretty much at the first few pages. As the narrative follows the extremely slowly arriving storm (predicted in Early October, hits in the Spring, and doesn't happen in the novel until chapter 19), the marriage falls apart. To be honest, they were never really together from the beginning and the only reason they had some semblance of a relationship is due to Ash's denial of Pia's mental problems and his desire to smooth things over, explain behavior away, and keep it together.

Ash's relationship and desire to help neglected 7 yr. old neighborhood boy, August, is one redeeming quality to We Are Unprepared, which could have used some more redeeming story lines and characters. Other than that this is one you'll read for the disaster. You can skim ahead for that because it happens late in the book. I appreciate what Kirkus reviews said: "By that point, 19 chapters into the book, the reader is eager for the damn storm to occur." Yup, that pretty much summarized my thoughts.

The writing is okay, nothing spectacular. Ash is the only character you get to know, but he and Pia are both formulaic stereotypes of a certain segment of the population. So, read this if you just want to read a disaster novel with blizzards, snow, and flooding. It's akin to a sci-fi channel disaster movie (or at least those I noticed back when I actually had cable). In fact, you could just watch a disaster movie and do just as well. Those of you who have experienced huge snowfalls and then floods from Spring melting might just see this as an "eh" book because you've lived it with less fanfare and hand wringing.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.

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