When 16-year old Luke Dorsey's book, Hallelujah, becomes a bestseller, his publisher decides to send him out on a book tour. Sounds good, right? Well, come to find out his chauffeur is going to be his crazy, unpredictable, older brother Matt. When Matt decides to liven up the trip, things start to go downhill. Without Luke knowing, Matt makes a few tweaks to the driving plan, so that they're driving on the legendary Route 66, and he decides to add a few companions: his girlfriend Alex and her sister Fran, who happens to be Luke's ex-crush/crush (he hasn't quite decided) . Soon this book tour turns into a journey about finding yourself and then staying true to yourself. Add a little site-seeing, a little faith, and a lot of humor, and you get Thou Shalt Not Road Trip.
Ok... I had VERY high expectations for this book since I loved Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John, and I have to say I don't think it lived up to all of my expectations. First, let me say the road trip didn't go so smoothly. The first 136 pages were quite bad, so much so that I didn't know if I wanted to finish the book. Now saying that, I'm glad I did because it got a lot better,but only because Fran became more of a prominent character. That's what really saved the book for me. Let's just get the first 136 pages out of the way. In those pages it was quite boring and you start to wonder if there's really a plot. The characters aren't well developed and don't have enough depth. That does change after page 137 but Fran really is the most well put together character and I have to wonder if the book should have been from her perspective. Now this might be because she reminds me of Piper from Five Flavors of Dumb, but still...
Also, there is a lot of language throughout the book (look in warnings for full description) and a vivid scene of self abuse on page 92 (also in the warnings). For the next warning I'm going to be very, shall we say vague, in how I say this, but it definitely needs to be addressed. So here goes. On pages 133 through 135 there's an interview hijacking. The interviewer is a local frat guy. It starts by slamming abstinence and ends with an inappropriate discussion about masturbation. Overall it was very crude, disgusting, and thoroughly disappointing. This is the worst part of the book in my view, and as I said before I am seriously disappointed in Antony John because that did not have to be in the book.
On to the second part of the book, pages 137 and on. I definitely think that the characters got stronger and the plot got rolling. There were a lot of good things, especially the realization that Luke made about himself, others, and his book. Luke grows and learns that disappointing people is part of life if you want to stay true to yourself and your beliefs. Now for the bad part. There's a lot of lying and Luke does dig his own grave a few times by lying. Even though the lying is wrong, I think it made the book more realistic. In the end when everything came to light Luke had to deal with it and learned that telling the truth would have been a lot easier and he would have hurt a lot less people. It also showed how much freer he felt when he told the truth. The end was not a fairy tale ending. It ended with him on the road to forgiveness, not at the end of the road. So, I felt that it was much more realistic.
Overall though I have to give it a 5 because it's right in the middle for me. The first part is not worth your time and had some negative things in it, but the second part was funny and pretty good, still having some negative things in it but to a lesser degree. Therefore, right down the middle.
1 for Christ's sake
1 son of a bitch
2 oh my God
1 oh God
WARNINGS: There are several scenes with underage drinking and talks about sex. In one scene Fran is drunk and sticks a needle through her ear (there's a lot of blood). I already told you about the radio interview in the review. Oh and a possum gets run over.
Reviewer City, State and Country: Sharpsville, IN USA