Today I’m very pleased to be taking part in a Blog Tour (book launch) for the second book of an author whose debut novel I loved. And this one is no disappointment.
NOT NOW, NOT EVER: A Novel By Lily Anderson
Lily Anderson’s debut novel The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You took Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and reimagined it as a fandom filled YA novel that resonated with readers. Now, building on her nerd approved and classic rom-com based plots, Anderson’s sophomore novel, NOT NOW, NOT EVER (Wednesday Books; November 21, 2017), is a play on The Importance of Being Earnest with all the geeky fun that made her debut beloved. Anderson introduces her fierce heroine Elliot and sends her to nerd summer camp where hijinks are sure to ensue.
Elliot 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. No thank you.
2. She also isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA. (Ugh.)
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on 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 that 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 cutthroat 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 completion, 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 fraud in the process. With a persistent female lead and delightful rom-com update to Oscar Wilde, NOT NOW, NOT EVER is witty and fun—sure to entertain even the non-nerdy reader.
About the Author
LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You.
NOT NOW, NOT EVER: A Novel By Lily Anderson
Published by Wednesday Books
On Sale November 21, 2017
Hardcover | $18.99
ISBN: 9781250142108| Ebook ISBN: 9781250148179
For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact:
Brittani Hilles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-307-5558
“This is a wonderful book that explores the desire to be loyal to family and to create a space that belongs solely to
oneself. Ever’s is a fresh and welcome voice that unashamedly embraces her geekiness.”
—School Library Journal
“Smart, strong, and confident, Ever is a likable protagonist…and fans of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You will
joyfully greet the return of major characters. Good geeky fun.”
“Fans of Anderson’s debut novel, The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, will recognize some characters and delight n
the steady flow of witty banter and sci-fi references.”
“NOT NOW, NOT EVER definitely lives up to even the highest summer-camp novel expectations, and watching Elliot gain her stride and find herself at a summer camp for genius nerds is extremely entertaining…This is a strong novel with a solid cast of supporting characters surrounding Elliot, one of the most charismatic heroines in recent memory.”
More Praise for NOT NOW, NOT EVER:
“Witty, romantic, and exuberantly geeky, Lily Anderson’s clever teen tribute to The Importance of Being Earnest is
delightful. Readers will be wooed by sci-fi fangirl Elliot’s compelling struggle to remake her identity while discovering
how to be true to herself. Brimming with a cast of standout characters and spot-on family dynamics, this is a flat-out joy
of a book. Oscar Wilde would applaud—I certainly did! Bravo!”
—Jenn Bennett, author of The Anatomical Shape of a Heart and Alex, Approximately
“NOT NOW, NOT EVER is a smart, sexy, nerdy love story that would have delighted Oscar Wilde. Once again, Lily
Anderson has reinvented a beloved classic with contemporary friends, fears, and fandoms, nailing humor with
intelligence and heart.”
—Cori McCarthy, author of You Were Here and Breaking Sky
“If you’re not already familiar with Anderson’s rom-com chops, you missed out on a seriously delightful (and hilariously nerdy) debut in her Much Ado About Nothing–inspired The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You. Don’t make the same mistake when she takes on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.”
—BNTeen Blog, “13 of Our Most Anticipated Sophomore YA Novels of the Second Half of 2017”
“Fantasy may have its duels to the death, and sci-fi may have the threat of planets blowing up, but don’t make the
mistake of underestimating just how high the stakes in the real world can be…. Anderson takes on Oscar Wilde in her
sophomore romcom, about a girl named Elliot who rebrands herself as Ever in order to pursue the summer of her
choosing at a hypercompetitive academic decathelon…[there’s] she’s also greeted by a nasty surprise that keeps her on her toes when it comes to maintaining both her true identity and her secret whereabouts…and a more pleasant one in the form of a delightfully cute math nerd.”
—B&N Teen Blog
Praise for THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU:
“A geeky Shakespearean retelling that tosses Much Ado About Nothing into a comic book store. The result is a hilarious contemporary romance that pays tribute to everything in the geek canon, from Firefly to Doctor Who.”
—Paste Magazine, “The 16 Best Young Adult Books of 2016”
“There’s a lot to enjoy in debut novelist Anderson’s geek-positive update of Much Ado About Nothing, including…an epic love-hate relationship. Readers familiar with the Shakespeare will enjoy Anderson’s riffs on the original’s plot points as Trixie and Ben get their nerdily-ever-after ending.”
“Debut author Anderson updates Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing with impressive nerdisms and stinging
wordplay… Cultural touchstones, as well as the anxiety of keeping up in a highly competitive academic setting, will
resonate with plenty of readers.”
“A fun romance romp with a witty, geeky spin.”
—New York Daily News
“This book is the geeky best friend you’ve always wanted. A hilarious, heartfelt book that treats pop culture and
Shakespeare with the same reverence and adoration, The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You a perfect geeky read that I wish I’d had in high school.”
—Eric Smith, blogger and author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating
“Full of modern-day fandoms, such as Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars and Marvel comics… [and with] lovable, relatable, and realistic characters…that fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park or Fangirl will enjoy.”
—School Library Journal
“The adaptation is spot on, the witty banter is quoteworthy…brain candy for the brainy crowd.”
—The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books
Here is my review:
I read and reviewed Lily Anderson’s first book The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You (you can check my review here) last year. I loved it and I mentioned that I would be watching out for more of the author’s books. When a publicist from St. Martin’s Press got in touch with me offering me to take part in the blog tour for the author’s next book, I had to check it out. When I read that this time the author’s inspiration was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest I knew I’d fight tooth-and-nail to take part if necessary. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that, but it would have been worth it.
Elliot/Ever (if you know Wilde’s play, you’ll know that there are several people using false identities for a variety of reasons, mostly to live a different kind of life away from prying eyes) is a seventeen year old African-American girl, who lives in California, with a somewhat complicated family background (the Lawrences, on her mother’s side, have a long tradition of joining the Air Force, and her mother, in fact, teaches at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, while she lives with her father, a lawyer of French descent. Her step-Mom, Beth, is an estate agent, white, and an amateur actress, and she has a half-brother, Ethan). Her mother and all of her mother’s family expect her to join the Air Force, while her father wants her to do anything but that (mostly go to College somewhere nearby). And Elliot… Well, she wants to study Science-Fiction Literature. She is a geek. Her step-mother is about to play Gwendoline for the sixth time in an amateur production of The Importance of Being Earnest (that Elliot knows by heart from so many performances and rehearsals) and she decides to take control of her life and avoid another farcical summer. She lies to everybody around her, creates a fake identity (inspired by Wilde’s play), and after passing a genius exam to enter a summer programme (to win a fantastic scholarship to the college of her dreams, mostly because they have an amazing sci-fi collection in the library and they offer a degree in Science-Fiction Literature) she sets off to Oregon, determined to win no matter what.
Elliot/Ever soon discovers that you cannot outrun Wilde and that there’s nothing more farcical than a camp for geniuses. She has a few surprises (she’s not the only one to use a fake identity or lie), meets wonderful people (and some not quite so wonderful), finds love, and discovers what’s really important.
Like in Anderson’s previous novel, we have a first-person narration, this time by Elliot, who is a clever, witty, and determined girl. In this case she was not aware she was a genius (another member of the family was always considered the clever one), but the summer camp is not that dissimilar to the high school in the previous novel, although in this case everybody, apart from the college students who facilitate the camp, are new to the place, they don’t know each other and are thrown together in pretty stressful circumstances. We have, again, many pop culture and bigger Culture references (some, I must admit went over my head, but I didn’t mind that), a diverse group of students, but all clever, studious, dedicated, nerdy, and quirky. I loved Leigh, Elliot’s roommate, Brandon (a guy who carries a typewriter around. Come on, I’m a writer too. Who would not love him), and most of the characters. The dialogue sparkles and the quotes from Wilde’s play, that keep popping up into Elliot’s head, are sometimes humorous (I particularly like the ‘A tree!’ ‘A handbag!’ comparison) but sometimes the author chooses quotes that reflect the serious matters at hand. Although at first, it seems the less-likely possible setting for such a play, the summer camp works well, as we have many restrictions, a lockdown, rules that can be broken and people hiding secrets, overhearing things they shouldn’t, and getting into all kinds of problems.
There is cheating, friendships, betrayals, bizarre but vividly portrayed contests (Star Wars based fights to the death, The Breakfast Club themed memory tests…) and young romance.
I don’t know if it was because of the build-up and the identity changes but it took me a bit longer to get into the story than it did the previous novel, but once at the camp and when I got used to Elliot/Ever’s voice and her accurate descriptions of people and things, I felt as if I was there and could not put the book down.
The ending… Well, you’ll have to read it. It’s probably not what you expect but it’s good.
Once again I’ve highlighted many bits. A few random ones:
And he was wearing loafers. I couldn’t get my swoon on for a guy who didn’t wear socks.
Two narrow pressboard wardrobes that were less Narnia, more IKEA.
She sounded as though she really meant it, but that could have been because everything she said sounded vaguely like it was licensed by Disney.
He was cute and presumably very smart and, unlike so many other white dudes, he’d never told me how much hip-hop meant to him like my melanin made me a rap ambassador.
Another great YA novel that I’d recommend to people who enjoy sci-fi and pop culture references, people who love books and libraries, and who appreciate young female characters that have interests beyond school balls and boyfriends. And of course, if you love witty dialogue, farcical plots, and are a fan of Oscar Wilde, you are in for a treat. I’ll for sure be waiting for Anderson’s next novel.
Just in case my few quotes have not sufficed, I have an excerpt from the novel:
with melting coconut oil. The air conditioner wasn’t up high enough to permeate through more than the top layer of my hair. Even with the streetlamps burning outside the windows, I knew it would still be almost ninety degrees outside. I took a long sip of my lemonade.
Sid’s biceps gave an unconscious flex. “They couldn’t have picked something useful for you to do with your vacation?”
“No,” I said. The truth came out cool and clean against my lips. “They really couldn’t have.”
When we perfect commercial time travel, everyone in the past is going to be pissed at us. It’s not only that their quiet, sepia-toned lives will be inundated with loud-mouthed giants. And it’s not even the issue that language is a living organism, so all communication will be way more problematic than anyone ever thinks about.
It’s jet packs.
At some point, someone is going to ask about jet packs, and no amount of bragging about clean water and vaccines and free Wi-Fi will be able to distract them. Even if you went back before the Industrial Revolution, someone is going to want to know if we’ve all made ourselves pairs of Icarus wings.
Defrost Walt Disney and he’ll ask to be put back in the fridge until Tomorrowland is real. Go back to the eighties and everyone’s going to want to know about hoverboards.
Hell, go back to yesterday, find your own best friend, and they’d still ask, “Tomorrow’s the day we get flying cars, right?”
People want miracles. They want magic. They want to freaking fly.
Unrelated: Did you know that crossing state lines on a train is pretty much the most boring and uncomfortable thing ever?
Despite sounding vaguely poetic, the midnight train to Oregon wasn’t much for scenery. Unfortunately, running away tends to work best in the middle of the night, especially when one’s cousins have a curfew to make and can’t wait on the platform with you.
Twelve hours, two protein bars, and one sunrise later, the view was rolling brown fields that turned into dilapidated houses with collapsing fences and sun-bleached Fisher Price play sets. Apparently the whole “wrong side of the tracks” thing wasn’t a myth. Everything the train passed was a real bummer.
One should always have something sensational to read on the train, whispered Oscar Wilde, sounding remarkably like my stepmom. With my headphones drowning out the screech of the tracks,
I reached into my backpack, pushing past the heavy stack of books and ziplock bags of half-eaten snacks, to the bottom. Tucked between the yellowed pages of my battered copy of Starship Troopers was a folded square of white printer paper. I tried to smooth it over my leg, but it snapped back into its heavy creases.
On behalf of Rayevich College and our sister school, the Messina Academy for the Gifted, it is my great pleasure to offer you a place at Camp Onward. At Onward, you will spend three weeks learning alongside forty-seven other accomplished high school students from all over the West Coast as you prepare for the annual Tarrasch Melee. The winners of the Melee will be granted a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Rayevich College . . .
The page was starting to wear thin in the corners from my fin- gers digging into it whenever it stopped feeling real enough. The packing list that had once been stapled to it was even worse off, highlighted and checkmarked and underlined. I’d had to put that one inside of an N. K. Jemisin hardcover so that the extra weight could smash it flat.
I ran my thumb over the salutation again. Dear Ever.
I shivered, remembering how my hands had trembled as I’d read those words for the first time, stamped to the front of an envelope with the Rayevich seal in the corner. It meant that everything had worked. It meant that freedom was as simple as a checked box on an Internet application.
The train lurched to a stop. I shoved the note back inside of Starship Troopers and popped out my headphones just in time to hear the conductor’s garbled voice say, “Eugene station.”
I staggered down to the platform, my laptop case and my backpack weighing me down like uneven scales. I sucked in fresh air, not even caring that it tasted like cement and train exhaust. It was cooler here than it was back home. California asphalt held in heat and let it off in dry, tar-scented bursts.
Oregon had a breeze. And pine trees. Towering evergreens that could have bullied a Christmas tree into giving up its lunch money. We didn’t get evergreens like that at home. My neighborhood was lined in decorative suburban foliage. By the time I got back, our oak tree would be starting to think about shedding its sticky leaves on the windshield of my car.
As a new wave of passengers stomped onto the train, I retrieved the massive rolling suitcase that Beth had ordered off of the Internet for me. It was big enough to hold a small person, as my brother had discovered when he’d decided to use it to sled down the stairs.
I’d miss that little bug.
There were clusters of people scattered across the platform, some shouting to each other over the dull roar of the engine. I watched an old woman press two small children into her bosom and a hipster couple start groping each other’s cardigans.
In the shade of the ticket building, a light-skinned black guy had his head bowed over his cell phone. His hair was shorn down to his scalp, leaving a dappling of curl seedlings perfectly edged around his warm brown temples. He was older than I was, definitely college age. He had that finished look, like he’d grown into his shoulders and gotten cozy with them. A yellow lanyard was swinging across the big green D emblazoned on his T-shirt.
“Hey,” I called to him, rolling my suitcase behind me. My laptop case swayed across my stomach in tandem with my backpack scraping over my spine, making it hard not to waddle. “Are you from Rayevich?”
The guy looked up, startled, and shoved his phone into the pocket of his jeans. He swept forward, remembering to smile a minute too late. All of his white teeth gleamed in the sunshine.
“Are you Ever?” His smile didn’t waver, but I could feel him processing my appearance. Big, natural hair, baggy Warriors T-shirt, cutoff shorts, clean Jordans. Taller than him by at least two inches.
“Yeah,” I said. And then, to take some of the pressure off, “You were looking for a white girl, right?”
His smile went dimply in the corners, too sincere to be pervy. “I’m happy to be wrong.”
“Ever Lawrence,” I said, hoping that I’d practiced it enough that it didn’t clunk out of my mouth. It was strange having so few syllables to get through. Elliot Gabaroche was always a lot to dump on another human being.
“Cornell Aaron,” the college boy said, sticking his hand out. He had fingers like my father’s, tapered, with clean, round nails. I spent the firm two-pump handshake wondering if he also got no-polish manicures. “I’ll be one of your counselors at Onward. It’s a quick drive from here.”
He took the handle of my suitcase without preamble and led the way toward the parking lot. I followed, my pulse leaping in the same two syllables that had wriggled between the folds of my brain and stamped out of my shoes and pumped through my veins for months.
It was a stupid thing to drive you crazy, but here I was: running away from home in the name of Oscar Wilde.
Thanks to Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), to NetGalley and to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!