Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter
Published March 27th, 2018
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.
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.
I rated Not If I Save You First 3/5 stars.
This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler-free.
I had extremely high expectations when I picked up Not If I Save You First. Not only was I beyond excited at the release of a new Ally Carter book, but I preordered a signed copy. I’ve only preorded three books to date if that gives you some perspective on the monument of this fact.
I expected wit and dry humor and female badassery and all the things that make an Ally Carter book an Ally Carter book, and I was somewhat satisfied by my reading experience. There certainly were antics and female badassery, but the magic wasn’t there for me. My high expectations may have skewed my judgment, and even so, this book didn’t quite do what I expected of it.
For starters, the concept never quite stuck. Protagonist and narrator Maddie, who wields a bedazzled hatchet and lives in the Alaskan wilderness for a reason that isn’t sufficiently developed until the end of the novel, was best friends with the president’s son. He didn’t return any of her letters, so she wants to kill him…? I too was once a moody sixteen-year-old girl, but I never had the urge to off someone because they didn’t return my texts.
The beginning of the book felt like the opposite of a data dump: rather than overexplaining everything, little to no contextual information was provided. This wasn’t entirely a setback because the plot was pretty straightforward based on the synopsis, but some sense of time and place would’ve been helpful.
This vagueness extended pretty far, and then the data dump finally came about two-thirds into the book. All the questions and uncertainties I’d acquired finally got an answer, but at the wrong time. There’s something to be said for keeping the reader on-edge, but this went beyond a simple cliffhanger. I had questions about devices that weren’t relevant to the plot, like “why does Maddie have such a severe reaction to a boy not writing her back?” and “where did she get rhinestones in the middle of Alaska?”
Once we were launched into the plot, I didn’t much mind the fact that the entire book takes place in the middle of Alaska. There’s not a ton to work with when all you have are snow and trees, but Carter made this work. She wove in little details that continued to develop the setting past the snow was white and cold.
Overall, I enjoyed and was disappointed by this book in equal parts. It doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny but is a fun, quick read with a tasteful splash of thrill.
Have you read Not If I Save You First? What did you think of it?
Related Post // My Review of All Fall Down by Ally Carter