Publisher: Simon Pulse.
Hardcover, 336 pages.
Release date: August 25th 2015.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.
Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.
As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.
West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…
I was sure I was onto a winner with Until Friday Night, the new title from bestselling author Abbi Glines. So sure of it. This book seemed to have it all: major things in common with Friday Night Lights (a show I became completely obsessed with this past summer) Check. Hot guys – football gods, no less. Check. An even hotter romance. Check, check, check. What could go wrong?
Let me introduce you to West Ashby, the (ahem!) romantic hero of this piece. Side note: West is not romantic nor is he is hero by any means. I’d go so far as to say that West Ashby doesn’t have a chivalrous bone in his body. So, as you can see I wasn’t much of a fan of West Ashby. A football god he may be, but he’s also an all-round jerk. Think less Tim Riggins, more JD McCoy FNL fans and you’ll get the picture. Anyway, West has a lot to deal with and home what with his father dying and all, but I really don’t think this gives him free rein to treat everybody around him like dirt, do you? West has been dating a girl called Raleigh for round about a year when we first meet him. He’s not dating her because he loves her or anything like that; he’s dating her because she’s into him, and so she’s an easy lay. Seriously. The guys in this book are jerks! And the girls are slut-shamed throughout.
Apart, that is, from Maggie. Maggie is the heroine and all round saint of our piece. She also has a past so tragic is has rendered her speechless. Literally. Two years ago Maggie’s dad killed her mother in a fit of rage, and unable to deal, Maggie stopped speaking, preferring to communicate instead in notes and text messages – which works out quite well for the most part. You would think that coming from such a tragic past, Maggie would be eager to steer clear of possessive jerks who will surely remind her of her murderous father, but no. Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as she lands in the town of Lawton, Alabama, she runs into West Ashby, and soon after that, these two are swapping spit. Until this, Maggie had never been kissed. And so she falls for, and starts talking to West, even though she knows he is very bad news (and a jerk) and she should stay well away. Maggie still doesn’t talk to anyone else, by the way, not her cousin Brady (also kind of a jerk) or her aunt and uncle (not jerks as far as I can tell) who have welcomed her into their home.
If you think my response to West’s behaviour is way off the mark, just consider this quote from West soon after he and Maggie start dating:
“After each touchdown I’d glance up to see Maggie standing and cheering with a huge grin on her face, my f*cking jersey covering her body. God, I loved that. Everyone saw she was mine.”
West, at one point is also jealous of Brady’s relationship with Maggie – and considers that possibility that Brady might try to get it on with Maggie – his cousin. Yes.
I guess it’s safe to say that Until Friday Night didn’t live up to my excited expectations. Save for a fraction of The Vincent Boys which I checked out but never got around to reading past the first few chapters, I’m totally new to Abbi Glines, and I guess it’s pretty clear that this one hasn’t rendered me a fan. It’s not just the fact that West is a jerk that turned me off this book. No, there’s more to it than that: I found the story rushed, the characters underdeveloped and the writing lacklustre. I know that this is the first book in a planned series, but honestly I won’t be sticking around to see what happens next. I’m pretty sure the story between Gunner and the returning Riley Young will merit a book and at a guess I’ll say a gay quarterback storyline courtesy of Maggie’s cousin Brady might make an appearance at some point – but I could be way off the mark there.
I originally featured this book on my blog as part of a feature about books to read if you loved Friday Night Lights. Well, this wasn’t it. But I’m still open to suggestions on that count, so if you have any, please do share in comments. I will find my literary Tim Riggins some day – just not in this book!