2 In Review

Review: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Review: Not If I Save You First by Ally CarterNot If I Save You First by Ally Carter
Published by Scholastic Press on March 27, 2018
Pages: 297
Format: Hardcover

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.
No phone. No Internet. And not a single word from Logan.
Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.Until Logan shows up six years later . . .And Maddie wants to kill him.
But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly. Maddie still really wants to kill Logan. But she has to save him first.

We all know the formula, right? Boy meets girl during childhood. Boy and girl grow apart as teenagers due to unforeseen circumstances. Boy and girl reunite and come back together when they are older and wiser, boy and girl make out, get married, have a baby, white picket fence, 1 1/2 dogs, whatever the case may be.

Maddie and Logan did meet as children, but that’s where the similarities end. Because Logan is the president’s son, and Maddie is his bodyguard’s daughter.


How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

If you liked Gary Paulson’s Hatchet as a child but wish it had been a female lead, you’ll love this book. You’ll likely love this book no matter what, but people who grew up thriving on stuff like Hatchet and The Cay and Call of the Wild will really love this. Alaska seems to be prominent right now for some reason – Kristin Hannah’s most recent book is also set in Alaska, though the stakes there are very different. This makes me simultaneously want to never touch Alaska with a 10 foot pole and to go there right now and take it all in.

An almost-tragic attack on the White House when Maddie and Logan are ten years old spirals both of their lives out of line: Logan rebels in typical “son of the president” style, while Maddie’s father whisks her away to one of the most remote parts of Alaska where she learns to chop wood, set traps, catch and gut fish, all with her trusty bedazzled hatchet because let’s face it, a girl has to be both smart and fabulous.

Maddie has written Logan letters for years and years. She actually mailed them to him for the first two, but he never replied. She continued to write, but started to keep the letters to herself, almost like a diary. So when Maddie is sixteen years old, the last thing she expects is a helicopter to fly in with Logan on it, especially not Logan looking pretty good all these years later.

When a rogue Russian agent kidnaps Logan out from under Maddie while her father is away for the night, Maddie has no choice but to put on her five requisite layers of clothing and hunker down to go save her idiot ex, mostly so she can strangle him.

Maddie is a great heroine: she is witty, resourceful, and can take care of herself at sixteen better than many twenty-somethings I know. She knows what she’s doing, and she’ll tell you to your face if you’re wrong or try to stand in her way. She’s basically the Stephanie McMahon of the Alaskan wilderness.

Welcome to the queendom!

Logan is what keeps this from being a five star book for me, because he is kind of a wet blanket. He’s whiny, entitled, and just really hard to like. I wish I had more things to say about him, but generally he’s just the human embodiment of a shrugging emoji.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an interesting survival story with a badass lady in the lead, you’ll find it here. If you want to learn more about Russian spies and the Alaskan wilderness, look no further. If you want sappy insta-love with a wet blanket president’s son who is filed under “derp” in the dictionary … that’s here too, folks. Overall, a very engaging, interesting read and I’d recommend it to just about anyone who enjoys YA thrillers that aren’t your typical domestic/school setting.


“Dear Logan,

I’m sorry that the stupid Russians shot you.
Mainly because I really want to shoot you, and I hate that they beat me to it.

– Maddie”



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  • Reply
    Katie Rogers
    April 26, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    …onto the TRB list it goes

  • Reply
    Katie Rogers
    April 27, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    I nominate you for The Mystery Blogger Award!

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