An abundance of book reviews!

First off, on behalf of everyone here at After the Last Page (namely, Ashley and me), I feel the need to apologize for the lack of communication on our part. We were confronted with mounds of classwork, work-related drama, a college basketball tournament (to which I am hopelessly addicted every March), and both Ashley and I were sidelined and quarantined with horrendous cases of the flu (at two separate, unrelated times) which left us feeling like cranky zombies in desperate need of brains.

On the bright side, during my bout with the flu (which I am still recovering from) I managed to get quite a bit of reading done. Therefore, I think I owe you some book reviews!

1) First Date by Krista McGee

**Note: This was my first experience with Christian fiction, and was quite a shock to me since I didn’t know it was Christian fic when I started reading it. I’m going to rate it objectively, but keep in mind I have nothing to compare it to.

The Story: Quiet, structured Addy unwittingly finds herself selected to be one of 100 girls to participate in a reality show to determine who will go to the prom with the President’s son. Addy hates the limelight and is hoping to be kicked off the show as quickly as possible. But after a few weeks on the show, Addy realizes the plan she has for herself is a lot different from the plan God has for her.

The Low Down: In a generation where such reality shows are the norm, the plot felt like a genuine look at what a reality show is like behind the scenes. The producers are atrocious, some contestants are nice, but most are catty snobs, and there’s not a girl I know who wouldn’t want a friend like Kara, Addy’s roommate. I enjoyed McGee’s story and her writing was light and kept me interested. I thought it was a little preachy at some parts, and there were other conversations where I had to roll my eyes and groan because it was a tad on the corny side. But, all in all, it is a cute story of a young girl trying to come to terms with what she wants versus what God wants for her, and learning to trust in Him.

Bottom Line: Original plot with a good storyline and likable characters, but probably wouldn’t hold the interest of non-Christian readers.

OFFICIAL RATING: 7/10

2) Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

**Note: Supergirl Mixtapes will be released on April 24, 2012.

The Story: Set in 1997, Maria is on her way to live with her estranged, artist mother in New York City after breaking up with her abusive boyfriend. The idea is that a different environment will help her get over her “sickness” (which everyone is too polite to acknowledge was a possible suicide attempt). When she arrives in the city, she’s not sure what to expect. She finds herself wrapped up in a world where rock and roll is the only thing that matters, and she finds herself ready to live and experience life. A stranger to NYC at first, Maria takes to the streets of the city like a fish in water and learns more about life, family, and friendships then she ever would have learned in her southern, podunk hometown.

The Low Down: Maria’s conflicting emotions throughout the book feel as real as any teenager struggling with emotional turmoil. She’s been stifled in her quiet, reserved hometown and feels the world open up to her in New York. Her mother introduces her to a wild music scene, which is a heavily prominent theme throughout the entire book. Maria experiences a lot of ups and downs, however some of the things Maria encounters are a little extreme for most teenagers to relate to (learning to work the register at a strip joint and having a fleeting, unspoken thing with Mom’s 20-something boyfriend are just two examples).

There are also several subplots in the book, and some of them are a bit underdeveloped. There are a lot different elements piled into this book. Personally, I would have loved to read more about Maria’s BFF, Dory, and the Supergirl Mixtapes they send each other. Considering that’s where the title comes from, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more emphasis on that. Also, being set in 1997, a lot of the music references will be completely lost on younger readers. I was a child of the 90’s, and I had to Google just about every band and artist to find out who they were.

Bottom Line: If you are a music lover, you will probably enjoy Supergirl Mixtapes. Even if the references are way before your time, the characters’ deep love and connection to good music is relatable no matter how old you are. However, the obscure music references and multiple plot points might confuse and turn off some readers.

OFFICIAL RATING: 6/10

3) This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

**Note: This Is Not a Test will be released June 19, 2012

The Story: The zombie apocalypse is here, and it’s bad. All it takes is one tiny little bite to turn you into the one of the undead. Sloane Price and five of her classmates have barricaded themselves into their high school hoping it will keep them safe until help arrives. But Sloane has other things in mind. Her world came crashing down around her six months ago, spiraling her into a deep depression. To her, becoming one of the undead doesn’t seem so bad. While everyone around her hopes the barricades will hold, she eagerly wonders how long it will take them to fall.

The Low Down: Contrary to all appearances, This Is Not a Test is not just a regular zombie apocalypse novel. It’s not about kids trying survive flesh and brain eating zombies. Similar to the rest of Summers’s novels, she stays true to what she does best: digging deep into the raw emotions of her characters. The writing is phenomenal and brings readers right into the book. All the characters have depth and complexity and are so well rounded you wonder how they can’t be real. It’s suspenseful, fast paced, and an all around great read.

The Bottom Line: This Is Not a Test is not only a well written zombie novel, but a stunning look at the human condition and what someone is willing to resort to when all hope is gone. It’ll be sure to keep you on the edge of your seat right up to the end.

OFFICIAL RATING: 8.5/10

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