Book: Not If I Save You First
Author: Ally Carter
Published By: Orchard Books
Expected Publication: 27th March (oops!)
Thanks to Orchard Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book early. I loved Ally Carter’s Heist Society series, so I was excited to get a chance to read her new book.
I loved Ally Carter’s Heist Society series when I read it when I was about 15/16, so I was quite excited to read something new from her. Sadly, Not If I Save You First wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I was hoping for a fun, action packed survival story and whilst I certainly got the survival story, I didn’t find it fun or action packed. The Heist Society books are so fun and creative and the characters so vibrant and I guess I was hoping for the same here, but it felt like I could’ve just been reading a guidebook to Alaska! It was very slow paced and not much really happened, honestly I probably should have DNFed it but because it was an Ally Carter book, I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Someday I’m going to write a book: How Not to Die in Alaska – A Girl’s Guide to Fashionable Survival.
I bet you don’t know that a hair pin can make an excellent fishing hook. You may think you can use just any kind of mud for mud masks, but trust me, you CAN’T! In a pinch, nothing starts a fire like nail polish remover. Alaska is tough. You might know this, if you ever replied to my letters.
After Maddie’s Secret Service dad takes a bullet for the president, he takes Maddie somewhere he thinks they’ll be safe – far away from the White House and the president’s son, Logan.
But when Logan comes to Alaska, so does the danger.
If there’s one thing Alaska has taught Maddie, it’s how to survive. And now her best friend’s life depends on it …
I had high hopes at the beginning of this story. It started out well enough, with cute little Maddie and Logan at the White House and the set up of the kidnapping and Maddie going off to Alaska, but then it all kind of went downhill from there. I was hoping for something a lot more fast paced and intense, but instead, it was a kind of meandering survival story that I struggled to keep my interest in.
I wasn’t overly thrilled about Maddie as a character at first, I found her a little annoying, but she did grow on me through the book, I liked that she was girly and feminine and instead of that being a hindrance to her survival skills, she used it to her advantage, because often girls are allowed to be strong and able to survive but they can’t be feminine so I liked that Ally Carter showed this super girly girl who was also able survive out in the wilderness. I mean there were still definitely moments where she annoyed me, but by the end of the book I had come to appreciate her, though I did feel like she read as more 13 than 16 (and her nickname, Mad Dog, really bugged me). Logan on the other hand, felt totally flat, just your bog standard, cookie cutter, teen love interest, with nothing particularly interesting about him.
The pacing was ridiculously slow, I feel like I was dozing off through most of the book because NOTHING was happening. It was just Maddie and Logan being herded around the wilderness by evil Russian guy. I cannot stand books where half the chapters are the characters just walking around doing nothing and there was a lot of that here. You know a book is bad when it’s only just over 300 pages and it feels LONG.
I also didn’t really find Maddie and Logan’s romance believable, like you haven’t seen each other for six years and yet now you’re in love? Yup, no don’t buy it. You change a lot from 10 to 16 and I can’t imagine that things would happen that fast, you barely know who the other person is now and yet all you can think about is kissing them?
It was cool that it was set in Alaska, but I wish the author hadn’t felt the need to mention it every five seconds. Every other sentence seemed to be, “And in Alaska…..” I get that the author had clearly done a lot of research on Alaska and wanted to show it, but I feel like there could have been a better way for her to get it across.
I also found a lot of it kind of far fetched? I don’t buy that Maddie would have been able to annoy the evil Russian spy into submission and trick him that easily, or that Logan would have been able to carry Maddie across the Alaskan wilderness and survive, despite only having been there a day. Nor would Maddie have been able to kick the butts of two fully grown men after having fallen down a cliff and taken a bullet to the shoulder after only having survived on berries. I’m all for suspending disbelief in fiction, but this book asked for a little too much from me.
The villains didn’t really seem to have great motivations, I was kind of fuzzy on them, it didn’t really seem like they had a good reason for wanting to kill the First Lady and then kidnap her son six years later? And was the fact that they were Russian meant to be a comment on the election, because if so, I think it was a little heavy handed. Aside from Stefan, none of them seemed to have any real motivations for doing what they did and it felt like this was kind of glossed over.
The writing wasn’t great either, it was rather sparse prose and the dialogue was super, super corny!
Overall, I was really disappointed in this book. I was hoping for a fun, action packed book and instead I got a confused snooze fest of a book and not what I was expecting from the woman who wrote one of my favourite gangs of criminals. I missed the fun banter, and group dynamic of Kat’s crew. This was a kind of forgettable story and honestly? I wish I hadn’t requested it, I could have spent my time better reading something else.
My Rating: 2/5
Bechdel Test: FAIL-Maddie is the only named female character in this book, so it automatically fails. Seriously, how hard is it to have one other female character for her to have a conversation with?
My next review will be of the latest Trials of Apollo book, The Burning Maze.