ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction, Suspense

Now Is Not The Time To Panic, by Kevin Wilson

AVAILABLE November 8, 2022

I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. Only 50% in, not knowing its conclusion, my mind was bursting with things I wanted to say about it. In fact, most of this review is from notes that flowed out of me before I even knew how it ended.

It is 1996 in Coalfield, Tennessee. Partly out of boredom, with a bit of mischief and a desire to make their marks in a world that was ignoring them, Frankie and Zeke combine their talents and make a poster. Frankie, the writer, creates a cryptic, poetic phrase of which she is very proud. Zeke, the artist, draws a picture to match the phrase.

Next, the two sixteen year olds make hundreds of copies of the poster and start putting them in public places. The rush they get from the town’s initial reaction is exactly the motivation they need to make more…and more…and more. But the more creative they get with the posters’ placement, the more things spiral out of control.

At the risk of spoilers, I’ll say no more about the plot except that it is brilliant. The idea that something as obscure as a poster can escalate into the level of panic that happens is nothing short of genius. Genius that is scary in its truth of the way humans behave. Any kind of extremism throughout history can be traced to an initial idea–or the interpretation of an idea. We’ve seen plenty of that in the last few years.

So is the poster about art? About the interpretation of art? Personal branding? Or is it about people trying to be a part of something bigger than themselves? Politics? Religion? It could be about any, or all, or none of these–making the book as open to discussion as the poster itself.

I highly recommend this book when it becomes available in November. There is some language–these are teenagers, after all–but the concept is so intriguing and the plot so cleverly woven, this really is a book not to be missed.

9.5/10 Stars

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