Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson Book Review Read it later

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Jessica R Contributor

I was thrilled when Ecco Publishing reached out to see if I was interested in reading and reviewing Kevin Wilson’s latest novel, Now is Not the Time to Panic. Coming of age novels are almost always something I enjoy, and this one promised an interesting twist.

Summary:

now is not the time to panic book

Sixteen-year-old Frankie lives in the small town of Coalfield with her older, troublemaking triplet brothers and single mom. Her dad left them and started a new family elsewhere, and Frankie is struggling with who she is and the boredom of small-town life. One day a new boy, Zeke, shows up at their local pool and asks her to help him win a contest by wrestling a vaseline coated watermelon out of the pool. Their brief, strange encounter creates a bond and they become fast friends.

Over the summer, Zeke and Frankie spend all of their time together, vowing to work on their respective arts: drawing and writing. While exploring the junk in Frankie’s garage, they uncover an old copy machine the triplets stole and then broke.

Zeke and Frankie get it working again. And then, in pursuit of their artistic dreams, they make a poster together. Frankie contributes a weird, nonsense phrase and Zeke adds equally obscure drawings. They make photocopies of their poster and, wanting their art to mean something, begin to systematically plaster them all over Coalfield. They plaster them on walls, outside movie theaters, and stuff them in mailboxes. What begins as an attempt to share their art with the world turns into a source of chaos.

Locals begin to believe the posters are evil in nature, and that the nonsense phrase Frankie made up is actually code for something else. Stories are concocted about the poster, even an alleged kidnapping is attributed to its phrase. When someone dies because of a poster, it hits the news and copycats explode in Coalfield and beyond.

Told primarily from 16-year-old Frankie’s point of view, Now is Not the Time to Panic also periodically jumps forward 21 years to a reporter contacting Frankie about what happened that summer.


Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson

Genre: Fiction/YA

Teens Zeke and Frankie create a poster with a random, strange phrase and become obsessed with making copies, placing it all over their city. What starts out as a need to share their art quickly turns into a source of panic for the residents. 

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Review:

Rating

I really love that Wilson takes us back to the 1990s in this story. The nostalgia of the decade paired with two teens who are optimistic and itching to make their mark on the world immediately pulled me back into my own teenage years. Wilson does an excellent job of exploring those emotions, as well as the confused feelings of attraction and growing independence between Frankie and Zeke.

Contributor Jessica with now is not the time to panic
Contributor Jessica with Now is Not the Time to Panic!

The book flashes back and forth between teen Frankie and Frankie 20 years later who is confronted by a reporter about the incidents of the past. The way the story builds and hints at ominous things made me think something truly epic was bound to happen. Without giving spoilers away, I confess that the hype the story created within itself was, unfortunately, anti-climatic. This same thing happens with the build up to the end of the book: setting the stage for big things and resolving with mediocre results.

Where this book really shines though, is in its sense of gritty realness. What happens with Frankie and Zeke’s poster feels like something that might really have happened in the 90s, perhaps especially because, without the assistance of smartphones to look up information immediately, it was easier to build a mystery back then.

Now is Not the Time to Panic needed something a little more urgent with higher stakes to help drive the plot. And while both Frankie and Zeke are excellent characters with complex family dynamics and emotions, that alone wasn’t enough to carry the book into five star territory. I rate this one three stars.

Do you read books with weird plot lines? Share some with us!


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Now is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson
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