ARC Review: #NotReadyToDie by Cate Carlyle


Date Started: 8/19/19

Date Finished 8/19/19

Publication Date: 9/7/19

Page Count: 200

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5



I received a free e-ARC of this book via Netgalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

One thing that I love about YA Fiction is that it often tackles real life issues, such as sexuality, mental health, and in recent years, school shootings. This book focuses mainly on a school shooting, but actually touches upon some other important topics, including the ones mentioned earlier.

#NotReadyToDie is told from the POV of a girl named Ginny. It’s an average day in a Canadian high school class room when gunshots go off. In that moment, everything changes as the students hide under their desks and try to stay alive with a gunman walking through the halls of their school.

This novel takes place almost completely during the shooting, with just a few flashback moments to contextualize Ginny’s life. Inter-spliced through are tweets about the event, some of which come from students we recognize, while others come from parents, news outlets, and other students in the building. Social media and pop culture come up often in this novel, which is good as it helps to really ground the story as being current, with mentions of the Kardashians and Donald Trump, but it will also make the story dated in a few years, which is unfortunate.

The characters honestly weren’t too memorable. Many of them are reduced to stereotypes, though this is the fault of our narrator Ginny, who admits that she judges people too much. We have the cheerleaders, known as “Barbies,” the Nerds (yes, with a capital N,) the dumb jocks… and then the rest of the students. Mainly, we have Ginny and Kayla as the main characters, Max and Owen as flat side characters we see but don’t learn much about, and a few others who get named but we really don’t care about once they’re off the page. If the story had been longer, maybe we could have gotten to know the other classmates better, but unfortunately they’re sort of just left as flat supporting background characters.

As mentioned earlier, I do like that it touches on other topics frequently explored in YA books, such as sexuality and mental health topics. We have two gay characters, one out and one closeted. There’s also a student struggling with her anxiety, as she left her medicine in her locker. Ginny, the protagonist, cuts herself, and even during the shooting incident she’s seen picking at scabs and making them bleed. I was glad to see that this shooting wasn’t a “remedy” for her cutting, and she still has this problem by the end of the story.

I also felt like the characters were talking a bit too much for a situation like this. At first, our characters communicated via gestures and phone messages, and by the end they’re talking and even singing quietly! I think that the general consensus when they’re a gunman stalking the halls and shooting at the door handle is to be silent and still. Of course, for the sake of the narrative it needed dialogue, but I constantly wanted them all to shut up and hide.

In the end, I’d give this 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 on review sites. The danger and thrill and anxiety was definitely there, but the stereotypical characters and lack of depth kept it from being as impactful and moving as it could have been. I would recommend this to fans of This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Violent Ends (a compilation by various authors) or to anyone who wants to read about this difficult subject.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think about this book or books on this subject in the comments!

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