Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

 Rating (Out of 5): ~4 (Maybe 4.5)
Publisher: Penguin (Dial)
Spoilers?: Minor, Plus one forewarned

Goodreads Synopsis:

When sixteen-year-old Luke's book, Hallelujah, becomes a national bestseller, his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour with his older brother, Matt, as chauffeur. But when irresponsible Matt offers to drive Luke's ex–soul mate, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. On the trip, Luke must loosen up, discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

Told with Antony John's signature wit and authenticity, and featuring smart, singular characters who jump off the page and into your heart, this story is a spiritual awakening and rockin' road trip in one.


I was hoping, even expecting, to really like this, especially because of how much I enjoyed John's second book, but then I was nervous when I found out that it was religious (which I didn't find out until I read another review, since I completely ignored the title. I was just like, Antony John['s new book]? WANT, and pre-ordered). (Which might not be surprising, if you've read this one review of mine...) I'm not too big on religion, so I was wary, and then I was surprised by how easily I got sucked into the book. Now, after reading it, I'm glad with how much I liked it, and am debating on its rating...
Thou Shalt Not Road Trip is about Luke, a boy who has written and published a book while still in high school, a book that he now, about a year later, feels very disconnected to. The book takes place when Luke goes on the tour for his book, a little over a week, with his brother Matt, his brother's girlfriend Alex, and Luke's old best friend and crush Fran. And during it all, he's kind of trying to find himself and deal with what happened around the time he wrote the book and after it got published.
So, I liked Luke. Mostly. Kind of. Well, he's sweet and I want to give him a hug, but at the same time, he's kind of self-centered and closed-minded and oblivious and I just want to shake him. But he's trying to get over those things, and he's getting better by the end of the book, so I feel that things are looking up for him, and I'm glad. 'cause even when he bothered me, (and probably because of how well-written he was,) I enjoyed being in his head.
We get to know Matt pretty well, and I wasn't a big fan of his. He's kind of a... um, jerk (douche, I feel, is a better word, but I don't like that word, and so am refraining from using it). But maybe he's getting better by the end? He did realize what he did wrong, and was doing some things to make it better, so... maybe, yea?. I don't feel I got to know Alex too well, but maybe she was okay? I did like Fran. I rather liked her a lot, and felt bad for what she was going through and went through and just wanted to be her friend through it all, when everyone else couldn't, and was wondering what she was thinking through all of it.
The road trip was fun. I haven't been to the places he went (at least, that I remember), and so it was fun to experience them with him. And it felt like more time should have gone by, instead of only a little over a week, but each day went by very smoothly; I was a little surprised with how well-done the pace was (which might be because it wasn't a love-at-first-sight story, since they all knew each other previously).
And now the religion part. Luke wrote a religious book, because he's a religious person, and goes to church and all that, but he's still very much a lost teenage boy (not that, ah, he wouldn't be a teenage boy just because he goes to church or anything; I swear, that is not what I am saying. [Maybe that his religion has not taken over his life?] More that, he still has teenage boy thoughts relating to girls; and also, that he gets embarrassed very easily by them, which is very cute and not bad in any way [this was a religious book with some really good romance, which I am very happy about]). And everything he thought about his religion, was very much of his own thoughts, and felt like they had nothing to do with the authors feelings about it all. It wasn't overbearing, and I didn't mind reading the religious parts, at all. Which was nice.
Also I liked the little excerpts of Luke's book, they were nice. And I found it interesting how disconnected he feels from the book, after all the editing and re-thinking, especially since it started as a journal style thing from youth group (or was it that summer camp thing? One of those things, I think?) only written in Bible format. I liked how he felt so different from when he wrote it, and his first interview was a complete blur in his mind, so he was surprised when everyone loved it so much and took it to be completely true and had such big reactions. I liked seeing how surprised he was when people came up to him, and with how many people came to his signings, and how upset they became later. It was really interesting and really well done.
The ending, I'm not so happy with. Mostly because of how things ended with Fran and Luke, but I don't want to spoil it, and so I won't say too much, but I'm not all that happy with it. I was hoping for something more, and while what happened isn't particularly bad, I was hoping for something different. Am a little disappointed, even though I feel that it is good for the characters, and isn't an overall bad thing. But, I guess, I can just imagine that things change later, progress more in the direction I want, or was hoping for? ([Possible Spoiler!] for Fran, to where she is more secure in him, perhaps?)
Aside from that, the book was really interesting and well done, and it kept me (a little surprisingly) interested throughout the whole thing, to where I didn't want to put it down, even as I had other things I wanted (or needed) to focus on, and even while I was trying to savor the experience. It was really good, and I'm really glad, and I'm super excited for his next book to be released (which, you guys, should only be later this year!).

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