Cover Image: Now is Not the Time to Panic

Now is Not the Time to Panic

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately Now Is Not the Time to Panic wasn't my cup of tea. It took me 3 weeks to finish this book even though it only has 250 pages and I think a lot of that comes down to the prose used. It felt very conversational, and while that can work, it did not for me. The constant usage of well.. ehm... like.. made me think of a valley girl accent and it was distracting. I also felt like everything was blown out of proportions in this book and just couldn't connect.
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Two outsider teens in a small and rundown town called Coalfield create a poster together one hot summer in the nineties. They plaster it all over the town. What follows becomes known as the Coalfield panic of 1996. Now married, a successful writer and with a young daughter, Frankie is contacted by a reporter who has figured out that Frankie was behind the poster.
There are some really great moments in this book, the friendship between Frankie and Zeke, Frankie’s eccentric but cool mother, her rowdy triplet brothers and the panic itself is fascinating but the ending fell a bit flat for me. It’s a fun read for the most part.
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“I had wanted people to care, to notice, but I hadn’t wanted them to put their own hands all over it, to try to claim it. But how do you stop something like that? You just tried to make more of it so you didn’t lose your claim to what was inside of you.”

Now Is Not The Time To Panic is the fourth novel by award-winning American author, Kevin Wilson. It’s a phone call from a stranger that casts Frances Budge’s mind back twenty years. Mazzy Brower is an art critic, writing about the Coalfield Panic of 1996, and she’s convinced that Frankie Budge started it. She’d be right, but does Frances want to talk about it?

Back during the summer vacation of ‘96, Frankie was sixteen, her mom was working, her triplet brothers flipping burgers at fast-food places, and her dad long gone, in Milwaukee with a new family. She was bored and a bit lonely. And so was Zeke, new in town from Memphis, his mom catatonic with grief over her cheating husband.

An aspiring novelist (Frankie), an aspiring artist (Zeke), a stolen photocopier, lots of paper and toner, and an idea: what could go wrong?

Their poster had an enigmatic slogan (The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us) surrounded by some strange illustrations. They made copies, lots of copies, and put them up around town. And they made a solemn vow to tell no-one that they were the ones who made it.

The reaction initially pleased them, but the analysis of the meaning, that was a bit upsetting: “I kind of wanted other people to not understand it in ways that they assumed a really cool artist had made it. I didn’t want them to not understand it in a way that they think we’re devil worshippers who abduct kids.”

And then, in that pre-internet-as-we-know-it-now world, it went viral. It spawned copy-cats and a weird and dangerous dad militia, The Poster Posse. Violence, lives lost, none of that was what they wanted. But at sixteen, they too naïve to realise that once you release something into the world, you lose all control over it.

They never did tell anyone, so how does Mazzy Brower know? And if she tells the world, then what?

Wilson paints a vivid picture of how a single piece of American pop culture, a culture-altering poster, can expand into a phenomenon and cause mass hysteria. His characters are appealing for all their very realistic flaws; some of their seemingly inexplicable choices can be attributed to their tender ages but they can’t fail to elicit the reader’s empathy. Funny and thought-provoking, this is a marvellous coming-of-age tale.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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Compelling from the first page, the story of Frankie and Zeke's teenage summer will keep you engrossed until the end.

A universal feeling of all teenagers is a desire to make a difference, to be heard and seen, to be important.

"How did you prevent your life from turning into something so boring that no one wanted to know about it? How did you make yourself special?"

Frankie and Zeke create something special, unique, cryptic and ultimately misunderstood and misinterpreted, which soon becomes an entity of its own and spirals out of control.

An endearing, joyful, slightly weird, delightful gem of a book. Utterly relatable to any reader who was ever a teen!

Thank you to Net Galley and Text Publishing for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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“The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us."

Kinda sounds like the lyrics to a great grunge song? This is a book about Frankie and Zeke. And a mysterious poster manifesto that creates a large scale state of panic.

I love that this book revolves a lot around the machinations of creating the monster, and the way it manifests itself all over the place, even without the help of Frankie and Zeke. It is art. Art provokes conversation, it challenges us to feel something, say something, to respond. The art is used to fill the silences of conversations with Frankie and Zeke; it speaks to them and for them when they have nothing literally to say. It is the connector and also the division of them, and their town, and almost the country.

We have insights into the life of Frankie and Zeke, and I won’t ponder of them a lot here, apart from reflecting that they are both young teenagers, bored in the height of summer, working how the separation of both their parents has affected them. The effect of the poster on this town and the lives of other is also a catalyst of being aware of individual actions, the helplessness in accountability, and whether the messenger in art or the creator hold responsibility. The revisiting of the origins of the poster, 20 years later by an art critic writing a story and making contact with Frankie stir up all these emotions again. Is Frankie responsible, all these later, will it make a difference to own up, and will those very words she created matter?

I loved that this was a book about the impact of art, friendships, its setting in the mid 1990s and the powerfulness of memories. That poster art was a key for Frankie and Zeke to find a life for themselves in those early years, and was also the gateway into something new, in more ways than one.

 Thanks Netgalley for the ARC.
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Those tough teenage years, finding where we fit in and learning to live, a wonderful book that links the past and future!
Art brings Frankie and Zeke together, young romance with creative flair reveals an unforgettable journey.
Years later, secrets and revelations could undo the life that has so carefully been built!

Thanks to the publisher, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Even though the writing itself was good, I kept thinking about the point of the story. It just seemed a bit of a water of time for me, to be honest. Seeing all the glowing reviews, I almost feel we've read a different book.
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I loved [book:Nothing to See Here|42519313] but this book didn't work for me as much.
The whole plot is basically laid out in the synopsis, there aren't a lot of surprises left to reveal. The phrase wasn't really that fascinating to make it's constant repetition anything other than dulling. The anxiety that adult Frankie still felt sounded unrealistic, as well as the fact that her narrative voice did not change at all in 21 years. The last conversation between the two MC's and the ending were really disappointing. All the build up of the potential domino effect didn't really serve any purpose because the dreaded consequences never got addressed.
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This is my first book by this author even though I already own "Nothing to See Here", but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I really like this tender coming-of-age story. Frankie lives in Coalfield, a backwater Tennessee town. She is 16 and she really doesn't connect with any of the girls of her age. She is a complete outsider. Then she befriends Zeke, a summer visitor, and a bit of an oddball, and the strike up a friendship. She dreams of becoming a writer and he is an aspiring artist and together they create a piece of art and set off a chain of events that will define them both forever.

Twenty years later Frankie gets a call from a reporter asking questions about the Coalfield Panic of 1996 and Frankie's part in it. What now? What was the panic? How could the simple act of producing a piece of art have resulted in the unbelievable things this reporter is questioning? Let's find out.

So many themes to explore in this short, propulsive story; the loneliness of feeling like a misfit, the value of finding   your own kind, the joy of creative collaboration, the everlasting connection of friendship, subversion, small town narrowmindedness. Others that are a bit spoilery.

Today I heard someone compare this book to "Forever and Forever and Forever", and although I didn't love that particular book, I completely agree with the comp. But I much prefer this one, And it has bumped "Nothing to See Here" up higher on my TBR.

Publication Date: 15th November 2022
Thanks to #netgalley and #textpublishing for the egalley
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It’s summer break in the 1990s and in Coalfield, TN, sixteen year old Frankie is bored hanging around the house by herself. Her single mother is at work, her boisterous eighteen year old triplet brothers are working at summer jobs and she has no friends to hang out with. That is until she meets Zeke, a nerdy kid from Memphis, whose mother has whipped him off to spend the summer at his grandmother’s after she discovered her husband had been having affairs.  Both lonely and struggling to come to terms with their unfaithful fathers, something clicks for them when they meet and recognise something like-minded in each other. Frankie is an aspiring mystery writer and Zeke a fledgling artist and together they create an edgy poster that they plaster up all over town as a form of street art. How this led to what became known as ‘The Coalfield Panic’ and to events that would affect the rest of their lives is at the centre of this uniquely warm and witty coming of age tale. 
The novel beautifully captures the awkwardness of adolescence and the yearning to be accepted. Wilson’s characters, written with humour and tenderness are so well depicted you almost feel that you know Frankie and Zeke and would recognise them should you ever run into them. A totally engaging and captivating novel for YA and adults alike.
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The relationships in this book make it worth it the read. The were beautifully written and built by the author. This is such a beautiful coming of age story that I devoured in one sitting. I highly recommend picking this book up.
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A charming coming of age story about two teenagers who spend a long summer holiday making art and posting it around their boring small town in Tennessee. The characters are recognisable, the narrator is engaging and the setting is vivid and evocative. It quickly turns into a compelling mystery - how did a teenage art experiment lead to infamous and disastrous results? And why is a journalist chasing down Frankie 20 years later to expose her part in it? Very engaging and enjoyable.
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.5 stars, rounded up.

I don't quite know what to make of this book. It certainly doesn't fit neatly into any particular category of literature. I thought the beginning was intriguing, and the ending was nice, if a little bit too tidy. Some of the middle dragged, and I'm not sure the 'this went national" really rang true for me.

Weirdly, bits of this book made me think of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, mainly because that book uses the phrase 'He took a duck in the face at 250 knots" as a sort of mantra. This one has the even better phrase:

"The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us."

It's a book about outsiders, and growing up and not growing up. There was (for me) something missing at the heart of this book. I can't quite put my finger on it, which makes this a book I would love to have as a book-club book. Interesting themes, not a long or difficult read. And despite my ambivalence around this book, I'm still pondering it after I've finished it so it made me think, which is always a good thing.
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After reading (listening) Nothing To See Here earlier this year, I wanted to jump back on the bandwagon of crazy stories. I loved the writing and characters of NTSH, and was expecting a similar experience with NINTTTP. 

Now Is Not The Time To Panic is a coming-of-age story, following Frankie and Zeke in the mid-nineties. When they meet during the summer holidays, the two of them create a poster that they spread throughout their town. They hoped it would get some attention, but what actually happens is beyond even their imagination... 

I loved Frankie and her misfit character, and how she paired up with another awkward teenager to spend her time. It felt very reminiscent of how I was spending my time during the summers (though I didn't make or hang posters). 

Also, I liked how real this book was. The bleakness of growing up. Spending summers as an outcast. The beauty in finding friendship. 

I didn't fall in love with the book though. Throughout, I felt a bit disconnected to the book, and I'm not sure why. It took me 10 days to read this (which is long for me, even though the book isn't that long), and even now I'm unsure what to feel. 

Read this if you haven't read any Kevin Wilson yet, or if coming-of-age stories are your favourite genre.
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Big Kevin Wilson fan. This felt strangely different but in a good way. A story about a poster and its ramifications. About coming of age and friends and feeling alone. Not as cooky as Wilson’s usual stuff but I loved it.
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A story that had me captivated from page one.  A bittersweet, funny, heart wrenching tale that has me reaching straight for another Kevin Wilson book. 

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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I’ve been waiting for this book for a while so was delighted to get a free copy from Net Galley ahead of its publication date in November. This isn’t a patch on Nothing to See Here but is still exactly the kind of fiction I needed to read right now when it is really hard to focus. 
Kevin Wilson is a master at creating characters that are social misfits but with a rich inner life. Cue Frankie - the only daughter of a single mom whose other children are three wild triplets. Frankie is a bit of a loner and totally ok with that. She meets Zeke and it doesn't follow any of the usual patterns of boy meets girl. Together they create a mythology around some artwork that once, posted all over town, had disastrous consequences. 
While the characters were well drawn and well rounded, this book missed something. I almost wish there had been repercussions to see how the characters would have behaved. They kept going on about how their lives would be or were ruined and really, they weren't. Their actions that summer had absolutely no impact on the rest of their lives. 
This was a great exploration of the naïve minds of youngsters and kind of reminded me of Rufi Thorpe's writing.
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Now Is Not The Time To Panic
Kevin Wilson

A very witty little coming of age story. Frankie Budge is 16, she’s an aspiring author and a bit of a loner. That is until she meets Zeke, a very talented aspiring artist. Together they create something truly beautiful with such meaning to them. Frankie writes the wording and Zeke creates an image which when completed makes some truly wonderful art. They are both incredibly proud of this work and they anonymously share it with their small town.

The posters are everywhere, no-one but Frankie and Zeke know who is responsible. The rumour mill begins to turn and the mystery has well and truly gotten out of hand with some devastating consequences. 

Twenty years later the truth is about to come out. Will this set them free or will they be forever bound by their secret?

I must admit I totally wasn’t ready for this story to finish where it did. I wanted more of Kevin’s writing. I really felt like I knew and understood the characters and their actions. Would definitely recommend.

A copy of this book was provided for me to read by Ecco Books on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is my third Kevin Wilson book, after The Family Fang, which was quite good, and Nothing To See Here, which was very good indeed. This latest novel, however, is my favourite of all. The strructure and settings are fantastic, the characters are well-drawn and likeable, and the dialogues are pitch perfect. My only possible complaint is that the story was a little understated, but in fairness understatement is sort of Wilson's thing, and in any case I was never bored at any point in the book, so I'm going to give it full stars and hope that it finds all the success it deserves following its release.
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Now Is Not the Time to Panic is an immersive, idiosyncratic coming-of-age story about two teenagers who spend the summer of 1996 creating and disseminating an artwork which has dramatic effects on their small Tennessee town. One morning in 2017, Frankie answers the phone to a journalist who plans to unmask her to the world. Now a successful writer, settled into married life, she’s never forgotten the summer she met Zeke, a fellow misfit, and the poster bearing her strange slogan illustrated with Zeke’s disconcerting drawings they put up all over town, setting off a craze which attracts newspapers and copycats throughout the world. When Mazzy Brower calls, Frankie realises she wants their secret revealed but first she must find Zeke.

Kevin Wilson specialises in portraying characters a little outside the mainstream. Frankie is the sixteen-year-old left behind by her peers, awkward around the idea of sex, losing herself in writing, living in a household dominated by her ‘feral’ triplet brothers; Zeke longs to go back home to Memphis, is given to outbursts of temper and feels out of step with small town life wanting only to create art. The intensity of their relationship and their obsession with their artwork is vividly captured, an obsession that Frankie never quite shrugs off. Wilson brilliantly portrays the way in which panic spreads, even before the turbocharge of the internet, with a humour which turns dark at times.
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