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 to the Air Force summer program at her mom’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 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 determination, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and run away to summer camp. Specifically, a cut-throat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College – the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program, and her dream school. She’s also going to start over as Ever Lawrence: a new name for her new beginning. She’s even excited to spend her summer with the other nerds and weirdos in the competition, like her socially-awkward roommate with neon-yellow hair, and a boy who seriously writes on a typewriter and is way cuter than is comfortable or acceptable.
The only problem with her excellent plan to secretly win the scholarship and a ticket to her future: her golden-child, super-genius cousin Isaiah has had the same idea, and has shown up at Rayevich smugly ready to steal her dreams and expose her as a fraud in the process.
This summer’s going to be great.
Last year, I read the rather excellent The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You, a modernised YA take on Much Ado About Nothing, set in a prep school for especially gifted students. So when I discovered that Lily Anderson had written a companion novel, with very gifted students competing with each other at a summer camp, as a modern YA retelling of sorts of the Oscar Wilde play The Importance of Being Earnest, I knew I was going to have to read it. Now while I absolutely adore the Shakespeare play, honesty forces me to admit that I haven’t actually ever read the Wilde play (nor even seen a movie version – shameful, I’m sure). I did read a summary, and while the previous book was fairly loosely based on the Shakespeare, this book is an even more loosely inspired retelling.
Full review here.