Yay!!! A new Ally Carter book! She’s one of my favorite heist/spy authors. I’m a sucker for heists and I love all things spy-like. This was…neither. It was more a survival story with a bit of tension thrown in (because survival stories aren’t tense enough). So, did it survive? Did I survive reading it? Well…
Maddie and Logan are best friends. They’re both around 10 years old at the beginning of the book (I was fairly unsure about this – but maybe I missed something very early on in the book). Logan’s dad is the president of the United States and Maddie is the daughter of the head of the secret security detail for the president. There’s the usual visit to the White House, these kids are set up as curious and slightly mischievous, knowing everything about ways to secretly move around the Executive Mansion. But then bad stuff happens. And they are ripped apart as Maddie’s dad moves them to remote Alaska and Logan stays in the spotlight as the president’s son. Six years pass. Maddie writes to Logan, but Logan never writes back. When Logan is dumped in the wilderness by his exasperated parents for Maddie and her dad to reform, more bad stuff happens, but it’s ok this time, because Maddie’s lived in the Alaskan wilderness for six years and knows how to handle everything. Almost everything. Everything but a former best friend who completely abandoned her when they were kids.
I thought the premise was kind of weak. I mean, I had best friends when I was a kid and something or other happened and we haven’t seen or talked to each other since. Yes, Maddie’s circumstances were different – her dad (paranoid for a semi-good reason) moved them 20 miles away from any civilization or people and she lived there in near-isolation for six years. I’d probably be hurting for any friend if that were the case. But the initial bad stuff that happened wasn’t a matter of national importance – it was more like a brag by a bad guy that went wrong and then he wanted revenge for his own brag gone wrong. When he tried to exact his revenge it was like “see how competent and able Maddie is at staying alive in the Alaskan wilderness after she’s been severely beat up” and “see how incompetent and stupid Logan is at stumbling through the Alaskan wilderness.” She’s all mad at him, so when she’s not being amazing at surviving she’s yelling at him, and when he’s not bumbling around he’s trying to charm her and alternatively yell at the bad guys for looking at her. And yet, despite all these flaws, it still kept me up until 1:30 a.m. Ally Carter may have spent more time researching this book than all her other ones (and you could kind of tell), and although I thought she could’ve spent a bit more time developing plot, she still enthralled me. She knows how to write an action-packed, fast-paced book that pulls you in and holds you until it’s done.
Violence, but not incredibly gory. Lots and lots of action. Several people get shot, some fatally, some not. As kids there’s a teensy bit of interest between Maddie and Logan and of course that grows when they see each other as 16-year-olds again. There is a bit of kissing, but not for normal reasons, and they do spend one night together in a cabin more trying not to die than trying anything with each other. There are two bad guys in this book really: the baddie, and the Alaskan wilderness. She does a good job of making us afraid of both. I needed some time to decompress after I read this before I went to sleep so I wouldn’t have nightmares.
Overall, not quite on par with her other books I’d say. The plot was weak. The action was good, but not quite enough to make up for the flaws.
Full disclosure: clicking the picture above will take you to the Amazon page for the book where you can read more reviews and purchase the book if you’d like. I receive a percentage of the sale, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to pay more for the book than you normally would. It just helps me out. Thanks!