Not If I Save You First
By Ally Carter
Scholastic Press, 2018. 293 pages. Young Adult
Maddie Manchester 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. After her father was wounded in an attempted kidnapping, the pair moved to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with no phone and no Internet. And not a single word from Logan. Maddie tells herself it's okay and starts to move on, 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.
In some novels for young adults, the romantic elements feel clunky and artificial. But this winner of the 2020 Beehive Book Award certainly is not one of them. The chemistry between Maddie and Logan is believable (teen awkwardness and all), and it helps to lighten up this complex story of loss and revenge. As they begin to heal old wounds, the two friends find real, healthy connection. Beyond the romance, Carter strikes a careful balance of action and angst. Get ready for a fun, quick-paced thriller with a witty, capable heroine and some dark twists.