cover image Thou Shalt Not Road Trip

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip

Antony John. Dial, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3434-0

John (Five Flavors of Dumb) returns with the disappointing story of 16-year-old Luke, the bestselling author of Hallelujah, a book about his faith inspired by his love of (and heartache over) his longtime friend Fran, who has morphed from an overachieving churchgoer to a goth with purple hair and tattoos. The story opens as Luke is about to embark on a road trip–style book tour with his college-age brother, Matt, but Matt has a surprise: Fran and her sister Alex (Matt’s girlfriend) will be joining them. As the group drives from Los Angeles to St. Louis, Luke learns how he hurt Fran and discovers a deeper understanding of faith (and himself). John’s novel lacks tension, and the characters are difficult to make sense of; Luke comes across as incredibly naïve, blind both to Matt’s attempts to use the trip for his own purposes as well as external sabotage aimed at tarnishing Luke’s reputation. The premise is fun, yet difficult to take seriously, notably the lack of adult supervision on the tour, especially as events spiral out of Luke’s control. Ages 12–up. Agent: Ted Malawer, Upstart Crow Literary. (Apr.)