Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First Date by Melody Carlson

I love reviewing young adult fiction, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to read First Date by Melody Carlson! Most of the young adult fiction I read is aimed at ages 13-18 and I would say that this book definitely fits that category. 

The story centers around 5 teenage girls who have formed their own clique at their school despite the fact that they are not especially fond of all of the members. The girls: Devon, Abby, Brynn, Cassidy and Emma all come from unique backgrounds and family styles. 

Devon's parents separated when she was young and she has a track record of being wild and irresponsible. Abby is the only daughter of a racist African American family who is very vocal about the fact that they disagree with an African American dating or marrying a White person. Brynn has a great family life, but since her older siblings have all moved away to college or have gotten married, her life feels empty and lonely. Cassidy has grown up in a Christian home her whole life, but lately has been feeling far away from her faith. She doesn't really know where she stands with "religion" or how she feels about sharing her Christian faith with her non-Christian friends. Emma's parents just recently divorced, and she lives with her mother while she struggles to make ends meet. 

Devon and Emma used to be close friends, but after Devon moved away a few years ago, Emma grew closer to Cassidy. When Devon moved back to town, she was eager to share her dating advice and created a dating game/club called "The Dating Games". The goal of the game was for each girl to help another girl find a date for the homecoming dance which was only 3 weeks away. They had 10 rules for the club which varied between "Helping other DG members find "good" guys" to "Not being jealous of a fellow DG member's boyfriend." The girls all agreed to the rules and began "working" on guys for their friends. 

Despite the fact that all of these girls go to a Christian school, throughout most of the book, none of these girls are living a Christian lifestyle. All of their decisions are made primarily based on social status, good looks and their ability to "snag a guy". All of the girls in this book were fairly shallow, excluding Cassidy. The characters were quick to point out the other girl's flaws regarding their appearances, and even gave 2 of the girls makeovers because they felt that no guy would ever take a second glance at them without highlights in their hair or brand new clothes. 

The girls all end up with dates for homecoming, and have a great time. All except for Devon, who finds herself in a bit of a problem because of the type of guy she has chosen. At the end of the book, the girls discuss shutting down the DG club or whether they should continue. All of the girls decide they should continue in the club, and even announce that they should start looking for different dates for the Halloween party. 

It seems The Dating Games is exactly that. A big game. I don't mean to sound harsh to the author. As a writer myself, I know how difficult it is to write a good story. But this would not be a book I would allow my daughters to read. The story was just so superficial and shallow. The girls were so self centered and dating was just a big game to them. This is not how I want my girls (or sons if I ever have one) to think about dating. I want them to focus on the personal qualities of their future mate. Not how expensive their clothes are or whether or not they have colored hair and wear makeup. 

There was little or no spiritual content at all in this book except to say that Cassidy was a Christian, and that Devon "used to be a Christian." I would expect a Christian young adult book to have quite a bit more spiritual content. 

I am sorry to say that I was not a fan of this book. I rate it as 1 star.

**This book will be available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.** 

I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group to give my honest unbiased opinion. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Ashley you always give such great Reviews