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Radical by E.M. Kokie


by E.M. Kokie

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Radical is a book about a young woman coming of age in the midwest. She is struggling with many different issues such as sexual orientation, economic struggles and believes she must be prepared for the end times. Bex spends much of her time "prepping" for the end times and this soon gets her in trouble. The story takes a turn when she is arrested because of the group her brother and herself have joined. I found the book to be a little cliche in that does she really have to be an angry lesbian against the world? But I did like that she found hope in the end and that involved taking another route. ( )
  SWONroyal | Oct 17, 2017 |
This book draws you right into the mind of Bex, a queer teen from a struggling family in rural Michigan, convinced and obsessed with the imminent demise of civilization and intently training with guns and survival skills. Bex's voice is so distinct, so real, and her perspectives so meticulously described as to feel genuine and understandable (even to a staunch anti-gun person like me). I loved this book and I hope to press it into the hands of many youth, families, and educators. Bex's world is complex--her family's poverty and continued grasping at the middle class, the sexism she encounters in her communities and her family, the silences and secrets she doesn't quite understand and see in time in her family members, the powerfully appealing illusion of control that survivalist messages and gun rights advocates propagate, having to hide her sexuality from her family and the depth of her involvement in the local survivalist 'gun club' from her girlfriend are handled with such precision and such an assured understanding of Bex's perspective. The prose is gripping and the ending is breathtakingly stark, completely unsentimental, yet honest and compassionate, even hopeful, by the last chapter. I loved this book. ( )
  Gretchening | Jul 20, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This realistic contemporary novel is for mature young adults and up. I say that because it has some light lesbian sexual interplay. But it is a worthy read for any young adult especially those concerned about an upcoming societal collapse.

Bex, short for Rebecca, is a 16-year-old obsessed with survival in the upcoming chaos. She is a gay young woman who is not yet come out but her clothes and hair and demeanour mark her as someone different. Her parents do not accept her as she is and her mother is driven to change her and make her fit in with her idea of a daughter.

Bex loves guns. This concept is so foreign to me I thought I might have trouble connecting, but the author, E. M. Kokie, smoothly brings us into the world of rifles, hand guns, bows and arrows, and more. Whether or not we believe in society’s eminent collapse and the necessity of strategic preparation, we understand how deeply Bex does.

The author deftly steers us in one disastrous direction and then presents us with another, more surprising but also more logical, disaster. Bex, who has done nothing but train to prevent ever becoming helpless or under the control of another, finds herself in exactly that situation. For the sake of her family, she endures the unendurable. She must make the most difficult decision of her life. The consequences will change her future and all her relationships forever.

Seldom does a book ever keep me up to three in the morning reading but by the time I was halfway through, I was committed to finishing it. Bex may be as different from me as morning is from night, but I wanted this girl to survive intact and couldn’t sleep not knowing what was going to happen to her. There are no happy endings in real life but the author leaves us with hope for a better life for a courageous, loyal, young woman who was never given a break.

I was given a free copy for review. ( )
  Bonnie_Ferrante | Nov 30, 2016 |
*** Warning Spoilers *** Bex is a prepper, she is ready to survive a catastrophic event but she is not ready to be accused by the FBI of terrorism after joining a local gun club. I didn’t particularly care for this book. It took forever for the plot to go anywhere. The FBI raid and arrest should have happened much earlier in the story. I would have liked to have read more about Bex’s time in jail, particularly between the time she spilled everything to her lawyer and when she got out. At the end, the author turned the book into a diatribe against the dangers of prepping, which was extremely off putting. Overall, not a book I would reread or recommend. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Nov 22, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
E.M. Kokie's Radical is a complicated beast: presented as a novel about the survivalist community in the U.S. (generally right-wing, anti-government folks who are preparing for war against the government), it also has its main character discovering her sexuality, and it’s all jumbled up in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness, needs-more-editing story. The novel is narrated by Bex, a teen who presents more on the paranoid side than as realistically preparing for an unknown Armageddon. She seems to have weapons down, but there isn’t much concentration on practical physical fitness training or self-defense and/or hand-to-hand combat. The first part of Radical is about survival prepping, then there is an abrupt turn to Bex's sexual identity. Then back to a catastrophic, deus ex machina-type climax.

Kokie is excellent at getting inside the head of a character. Unfortunately, Bex is not particularly likeable, and seemingly obsessed with survival and all things gun-related, until suddenly a pretty girl appears, and the survival training hits the back burner while long, descriptive – and hot – make-out sessions take centre stage.

Suddenly, the plot reappears at the end – apparently the plot had been happening all the time Bex was getting busy with her girlfriend, and it’s kind of bewildering – and disappointing, at least to this reader – how it all ends. Radical is ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying: Kokie had many cool ideas but scrambled them all together instead of giving each cool idea time to truly develop into its own story. ( )
  spuriouscarrie | Oct 15, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763669628, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 23 May 2016 03:55:14 -0400)

"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"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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