By Steven Arntson
Available now from Houghton Mifflin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
I loved the premise of THE WRAP-UP LIST, even as I fretted that the novel would leave me in tears. In Gabriela Riviera's world, one percent of all fatalities are due to Departures. You receive a red envelope warning you you're about to depart and you then have a short time to put your affairs in order and try to earn a Pardon. Gabriela just received an envelope and has one week to get a first kiss for herself and her three best friends: Iris, Raahi, and Sarena.
There are other ways Gabriela's world is slightly different from ours. Her US is not only at war; the draft has been instituted. It seemed like a throwaway detail at first, but the war becomes more entwined with Gabriela's fate as the story goes on. The Deaths are also explored more as Gabriela's Departure draws closer, which was a welcome development. But there are many ways it is the same. Gabriela's family is Catholic, but she's been questioning for a long time. Her parents hope she'll find comfort at St. Mary's, but she thinks many of her priest's answers are unsatisfactory.
Gabriela's entire background is very well done. Her family is a large part of the story, as much as her friends. I did think that Raahi and Sarena faded into the background too much at times, but Iris is always a large part of Gabriela's life and the person most determined to save her. I loved the characterization in THE WRAP-UP LIST. Her impending death makes Gabriela not only face herself, but the people around her. She learns things about her friends, her family, and her crush that she mind never have even wondered about before.
I read THE WRAP-UP LIST very quickly. The day-by-day structure, following each of Gabriela's last seven days, keeps the story moving. Not that I wouldn't have read quickly anyway since I wanted to know whether Gabriela would be able to perform the right altruistic task to save herself. (No, I will not give the ending away.)
I highly recommend THE WRAP-UP LIST. It has great characters, an irresistible premise, humor, and a touch of the paranormal. It's the strange not-one-thing-or-another type of genre story that YA does so well.