Bookgab: Not if I save you first by Ally Carter

by - April 22, 2018

Ally Carter is known for her contemporary teenage spy novels. Not if I save you first, is no exception in this regard. Maddy Manchester is the daughter of the head of the Secret Service and the best friend to the president's son, Logan. Only, after the attempted kidnap of the First Lady, Maddy's father moves them to the middle of nowhere in Alaska, where they are cut off from human civilisation, for reasons unknown to Maddy. Six years and several unanswered letters after their big move later, Logan is sent to Alaska following a string of misdemeanours to find Maddy completely changed from the girl he knew. She's not his best friend anymore, which sucks because she's just about the only person in a hundred kilometres either way, who can save his life.

I have to say that I actually enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I'm not the biggest contemporary reader, but I made an exception for this one because it was promoted as a gender role swap novel. It was fun and it ticked all the boxes for a light read while you're stuck between choosing different fantasy worlds.

 I'm all about switching roles and cutting down stereotypes though which is why I had a bit of a confusing time while reading this too.

Maddy's actions showed just how much Alaska had changed her in the sense that she was the one constantly coming up with different ways to get her and Logan out of sticky situations. She had a bedazzled hatchet, a necklace that helps her make fires from scratch, and a good head on her shoulders. Maddy would have been a great character, but somehow the way the novel was written made all of her great qualities fall a bit flat. Aside from Maddy's greatness, she couldn't go a page without thinking about Logan in his new handsome form. Like, you're about to die but please take a moment to admire his torso and his forearms and his smile... Urg, you get the point, but here's some reference.

“She definitely wasn't going to think about how hot Logan looked because:(A) It was Logan!and(B) She'd heard stories about girls who met cute boys and then lost their heads, and being that they were currently being held by a knife-wielding, ticked-off Russian, Maddie really didn't want to find out how literal that saying might be.” 

 I'm all for friendship to romance storylines but it was as if the romance took over completely from the main plot which was the kidnap adventure! Or at least I thought that was the plot... 

The other thing that irked me a bit was the fact that the story revealed very little of Logan's life during those six years. The Logan the reader knows is the past Logan and the present Logan. And what we know about the present Logan is that he is charming and obsessed with Maddy, who he calls Mad Dog - the whole time... It's supposed to be endearing, but I am not on board.

When I looked past those flaws, however, the setting Ally brings to life in the novel is really breathtaking. You can tell that a lot of research and effort was put into the book to make the story come to life. I actually could see the plot unfold like a movie, which is always a fun treat to have. If it was ever made into a movie I would definitely go see it.

The last 100 pages of the book were the most enjoyable to me because the plot was moving faster, there were stakes brought on to hike up the tension which fell a bit flat in the beginning and the romance took a bit of a step back which was nice.

If you're into spy novels with effortlessly fun characters, a will they won't they objective with a sprinkle of danger on the side, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this book. I've also read that most Ally Carter fans found this story to be closer to the books she used to produce in the past - this is a really good thing according to my sources haha.

I have given this book a 3.5-star rating on Goodreads, because I did end up enjoying it despite the few issues I picked up. Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comment section down below 💚😊

“But Logan had to laugh when he realized that he was the maiden in this scenario. And he didn't care one bit.” 

“What about you?" he asked. "Are you going to kill me?"Maddie had to think about the answer."Why would I do that when I just have to get out of the way and let Alaska do it for me?” 

Dear Logan,
This is called a letter. It's like an email but written on paper and sent through the regular mail (like bills).
This is called a letter. It's like an email but written on paper and sent through the regular mail (like bills).” 

“A pair of Secret Service agents she didn't recognize practically smirked as she passed, like they'd been wanting to yell at Rascal for ages, like they were more than happy to sit aside and let a teenage girl take a stab at him. They looked like they'd even give her the knife. Which wasn't necessary. Maddie always carried her own.” 
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.
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” 

Thank you to the lovely people at Pan Macmillan SA for sending me a review copy :) 

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