Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Teen/YA Review: Not If I Save You First

On a recent road trip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, my husband and I were looking for an audio book for the car. He prefers thrillers, but this was a short trip, so we chose a YA survival thriller, Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter. I had previously listened to Carter's All Fall Down (book 1 in her Embassy Row series), and this stand-alone novel proved to be similarly exciting and fast-paced, with an original plot.

Maddie and Logan are best friends, but their circumstances are unusual. Logan's dad is President of the United States, Maddie's dad is a Secret Service agent who protects him, and the two 10-year olds play in the halls of the White House. A frightening incident breaks up their friendship, though, when Maddie's dad decides to move the two of them to Alaska - the middle of nowhere in Alaska, to be precise. Maddie writes lots of letters to Logan, but he never writes back. Now, six years have passed, and Logan is suddenly there, in Maddie's cabin in the woods for a visit. Maddie wants to tell him how angry she is with him, but an unknown assailant knocks her down into a ravine, leaves her for dead, and hauls Logan off through the dense forest. Although Maddie could go back for help, a storm is quickly approaching, and Maddie knows these woods better than anyone, so she easily tracks Logan and his kidnapper before the snow can cover their trail. She'd like to kill him for not writing back to her all those years ago, but she'll have to save him first.

Carter has set up a unique premise in an intriguing setting in this novel. Throughout most of the story, neither Logan nor Maddie (nor the reader) knows exactly why these particular bad guys have come after Logan, so there's a bit of a mystery there. As Maddie follows the kidnapper and Logan through the thick Alaska wilderness and eventually catches up with them, there is plenty of action-packed suspense that keeps the story moving at a quick pace, combined with details about wilderness survival. My husband doesn't read a lot of YA, but he enjoyed the thriller-like aspects of this book (though not the teen romance angle that pops up once in a while!), and I enjoyed it, too. Narrator Brittany Pressley provides Maddie's slightly sarcastic account and kept us both interested during our trip and afterward, as we finished it up at home.

304 pages, Scholastic Press

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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Listen to a sample of narrator Brittany Pressley reading the audio book Not If I Save You First.

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  1. This sounds like fun. Ally Carter is an author I keep meaning to read, but haven't gotten around to yet.

    1. She writes some pretty good YA thrillers, Helen - I think you'd enjoy them.