A book review to celebrate #romanceweek.

Here’s my take on First Love from both a reader’s and writer’s point of view.

First Love, James Patterson and Emily Raymond

Genre: YA, coming of age


Life has given Axi a raw deal – her little sister died from cancer and her mother walked out soon after. Axi’s had her own hard knocks to deal with too.

No longer content with being a GG (Good Girl) and in a desperate need to escape a drunk father who’s lost interest in her, Axi decides to take a road trip. She needs company and invites long time BFF, Robinson, along for the cross country ride in the hope that she can finally turn him into her boyfriend.

Axi and Robinson become a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.

Their coming of age journey and love story quickly takes a different slant when Robinson’s antics become more sinister. Axi experiences a not-seen-before and unpleasant side to Robinson.

This story has a slow-burn of secrets with twists and I-didn’t-see-that-coming turns (some a bit hard to believe).

Half-way through the book the story started to seem very similar to a DVD I’d seen recently – The Fault in Our Stars (haven’t been convinced by anyone yet that I should read the book). Almost identical story lines – teenagers with cancer, experiencing first love, taking risks, road trips and looking up at the stars. And neither stories have a particularly happy ending. I suspect that The Fault in Our Stars explores the above issues more thoroughly than First Love which clocks in at just 260 pages.

First Love explores the themes of risk, hope and first love.

What I liked about it

  • A quick read.
  • I was able to develop empathy for Axi because of what she’s been through.
  • Axi’s emotional journey when Robinson’s health takes a turn for the worse.
  • Any character who loves books and writing automatically becomes my friend.
  • Axi’s goal and motivation was established early and her character arc was developed well.
  • Good character development of both Axi and Robinson. I really felt I got to know them, their interests and quirks in a short space of time.

What bugged me

  • Robinson’s easy action to overcome a police officer and hold him down at gunpoint (is that even possible today?)
  • James Patterson as a co-author. I’ve read a couple of Patterson’s thriller books (The Women’s Murder Club series and the Private series) and they are good reads with a galloping pace. Patterson has swapped genre here and has written a couple of romances but I’m not sure why. The only Patterson signature was the short chapters and a couple of typical suspenseful moments. I have to wonder whether this was really a book to market Emily Raymond, and with James Patterson as the leading author it was bound to sell well.
  • Alix’s goal of not being a GG anymore is achieved either illegally or immorally.

Final words

An emotional love story filled with hope and knowing consequences eventually catch up with us.

Have you read First Love? What did you think?