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“She might be bloody and hungry and covered in mud. She might not have friends, teachers, classes, cell coverage, adequate food (for the moment), or any prayer of finding help any time soon. But--Maddie smiled--she did have a plan.” —Not if I Save You First
Not If I Save You First
by Ally Carter
AR Test, Must Read, Strong Female Character
When they were ten, Maddie and Logan were best friends. Maddie thought they’d be friends forever. Maddie never cared that Logan was the president’s son. But fate dealt their friendship a deadly blow. When her Secret Service Agent father almost dies trying to save the president’s son, everything changes.
After he almost dies, Maddie’s father exchanges the White House for a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Maddie had no phone. No internet. No friends. And no Logan. When she first moved to Alaska, Maddie wrote letter after letter to Logan, but he never replied.
Six years later, Logan appears outside of her cabin and Maddie wants to kill him. Before she can take action, an assailant appears, almost killing Maddie and dragging Logan off into the wilderness. Maddie could go back for help, but the weather is treacherous and getting worse. Maddie goes after Logan, but she’s not sure if she’s going to save him or kill him.
In typical Ally Carter style, Not If I Save You First begins with suspense and leaves the reader turning pages until the very end. Maddie is a strong heroine that doesn’t need to rely on a guy—not even the Secret Service men—to save the day. She hides her strength and smarts behind a girly persona, which makes her incredibly likable. Her conflicting emotions regarding Logan add interest and suspense to an action-packed story.
Unlike her other books, Not If I Save You First contains violence that is often described in bloody, but not gory, detail. The storyline revolves around a kidnapping, which is a more realistic storyline than Carter’s previous books. Because of this, readers can put themselves in the character’s situation. The story has several plot twists that will surprise readers and concludes with an epic fight between good and evil. When readers finish Not If I Save You First, they will feel as though Maddie is a new friend.
- When Maddie kisses Logan, he wishes he wasn’t in handcuffs because he “couldn’t hold her, touch her, pull her close and keep her near and never, ever let her go.” He’s disappointed when he discovers that she kissed him, so she could give him the keys to the cuffs.
- Logan and Maddie kiss several times. One time, “he was growing closer and closer and then her lips were on his again, warmer now. She tasted like snow and berries and it was the sweetest thing that Logan and ever known.”
- When Maddie and Logan are at school, Logan kisses her, “right there in front of their school and his Secret Service detail—right in front of the world. So she kissed him back again. And again. And again.”
- Russian terrorists attempt to kidnap the president’s wife. In the process, one of the terrorists shoots at the president’s son. Maddie’s father jumps between the man and the president’s son and shoots at the terrorist. The terrorist, “looked down at his chest, at the place where blood was starting to ooze from beneath his ugly tie, and he dropped to his knees. Then the floor. He didn’t move again.”
- While trying to protect the president’s wife and son, Maddie’s father is shot. Even though he was hurt, he tries to go help the first lady, and “he was still dragging himself toward the box. Blood trailed behind him. . .” During the altercation, the president’s son was shot too.
- A man kidnaps Logan and in the process, hurts Maddie. “And Maddie spun just in time to see the butt of a gun slicing towards her. She actually felt the rush of air just before the sharp pain echoed through her face, reverberating down to her spine.” When she tries to get up, the man kicks her, “a sharp pain slammed into her stomach.” The man then pushes her off a cliff and leaves her to die.
- Logan attempts to escape, knocking the man to the ground. “The two of them rolled, kicked and tangled together. Logan managed to strike the man in the stomach, but it was like he didn’t even feel it.” Logan stops fighting when the man has him pinned down.
- Logan attempts to escape again. Even though his hands were cuffed, “he slammed them into the man’s gut, pounding like a hammer with both fists. . .” The man pulls a knife and begins “cutting into the soft flesh between his pinkie finger and its neighbor. . . then he saw the bright red drop of blood that bubbled up from his too-white skin.”
- Logan tries to take a satellite phone from the man. “Logan elbowed him in the ribs, but a moment later he was pinned against the ground. . . Facedown in the mud, the cold seeped up from the ground and into Logan’s bones. . .” When Logan’s face is pushed into the mud, Maddie appears and the fight stops.
- To prove that he doesn’t value Maddie’s life, the man, “pulled back his hand, and hit her hard across the face. Her head snapped and Logan actually heard the blow. . . His hand was around her throat, fingers not quite squeezing, but close.”
- The man shoots a ranger. “He fired. Once. Twice. And the ranger fell.”
- In a plot to escape, Maddie blows up a bridge. “. . . the old ropes and wood exploded in a wave of color and fire and heat. . .”
- The man recaptures Maddie and, he “jerked Maddie against him, sliding the barrel of the gun along the smooth skin of her cheek like she needed a shave.” Logan tries to help her and the two men fight, so Maddie “kicked Stefan’s shin, right where the bear trap must have caught him, because he howled in pain, dropping the gun and bringing both hands to his legs.”
- Another bad guy surprises Maddie by grabbing her and “the man pulled her back against him and squeezed her tight, his own gun suddenly pressed to her temple.” Later Maddie, “dropped to the icy ground and kicked at his legs, knocking him off balance. . .” She shoots at the trees causing limbs to break and fall on the man. “. . .When the ice-covered limb landed atop him, he didn’t move again.”
- The climax takes place over several chapters in which punches are thrown, people are shot, and Maddie’s father has a knife held against his throat. In order to save a life, Maddie throws a knife at a man and, “he looked from the knife in his own hand to the blade that was stuck hilt-deep in his chest, right where his heart would have been if he had one.” The man dies.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Freaking is used twice.