⭐Morrison, Ewan. How to Survive Everything. Harper. November. 368p. HarperCollins.
A brilliant look at pandemics through the eyes of Haley, a 16-year-old girl who, with her little brother, are abducted from their mother by their father and taken to a rural farm—no Internet, no cell phones—in northern Scotland. They join a handful of survivalists, Haley’s dad is clearly the ringleader, and they’re waiting for the next pandemic, which should be arriving any day; a new virus, more horrible than anything we can imagine, has just made its way to the U.K. Bleak? Indeed. But fascinating, and even comic at times. Haley writes the book as a sort of parody of her father’s survivalist manual, with her own sarcastic spin (“How to Abduct Your Own Children,” “Home Surgery for Beginners.”) Add to this rich details about life on the compound, a budding romance with the one other teen in lockdown, and continual speculation about her parents, both of whom she believes to be crazy—any reader would agree—and whose epic divorce left her having to always choose between them. At the heart of the book is the question of truth. Is the world beyond the barbed wire that surrounds the farm really erupting in chaos, with riots in the streets and bands of the infected roaming the countryside? Or is life as they knew it chugging along, little different except that Haley and her family have left it? And does Haley—or any of the survivalists—really want to know the answer? A bit of crime fiction, a lot of dystopia, and 100 percent compelling.—Brian Kenney