Trent's Reviews > Thou Shalt Not Road Trip

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John
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Sep 23, 12

Read from June 29 to 30, 2012

Must I give this book a rating? I couldn’t put it down. I can’t explain why, but trust me, that doesn’t mean this is a good book. Quite the opposite, I hate this book passionately.

Every single character was a terrible person.

Luke, the narrator was hypercritical, selfish, and annoying the entire time. His manner of speaking reflected much more closely what I’d expect from a middleschooler than the highschooler he was supposed to be. There’s a general lack of maturity and common sense on his part.

Luke’s brother’s role is minor and serves little point save for transportation (in the most deviant route possible) and providing conflict. The entire plot is Matt’s fault. Seriously, he’s at the root of every issue Luke has:
*Luke wouldn’t be late if his brother didn’t take the most round-about routes and waited until the last possible moment to get Luke where he needs to be.
*By extension, Luke would be better rested and more prepared for his events if his brother got him there on time and gave him the opportunity to relax, which means he’d probably say less stupid things at those events.
*Matt’s libido is the reason Fran and her sister are here at all (thus, providing the paparazzi with sufficient ammunition to start with), but Matt goes one step further by making the two minors (Luke and Fran) sleep together in the same room (thereby adding more fuel to an already morally critical media).
*Matt is for all intensive purposes, guilty of theft regarding the misappropriation of Luke’s tour funds.

He’s a selfish jerk who always manages to make other people feel responsible for his failures, for all intensive purposes he is guilty of theft, and treats his brother’s professional responsibilities like dirt.

What I was hoping for in order to redeem his character was a scene after Luke’s publisher brought up the suspicious charges to the tour account where Matt reveals that he actually lost the credit card at the beginning of the story and has been paying for the entire trip himself in order to prevent making Luke stressed. That, or I wanted to have Matt really be there for Luke and use the side-trips as a means of helping Luke find himself. Sadly, none of that happened, and he remains in my mind a horrible person at best and a contrived plot device at worst.

Fran’s backstory is so trivial and overblown that I can’t sympathize with her. Up until the reason was actually revealed, there was a lot of attention paid to her arms. I thought she was going to be a cutter (something serious to match the degree of attention). Really she is a victim of verbal abuse, which is serious –don’t get me wrong– but the actual event that sparked her change is downright pathetic.

At the very least, I thought it would come down to the simple fact that she liked being a punk in fassion and attitude, but she doesn’t! She openly states that she doesn’t want to be like this, and she wants someone to tell her to stop.

Her sister, Alex, had no bearing on the story at all save for more useless conflict. We’re told that the reason Fran was brought along on the trip is because they wanted Luke to help fix Fran. However, at the end Alex says that Luke is responsible for Fran’s change in the first place. She blames Luke, and the whole thing either comes across as horribly inconsistent or colors Alex as just as big a jerk as Matt.

Generally, conflict makes a story, but there was no growth or development that sprung from most of these conflicts and there was so darn much of it. It’s everywhere. Literally every chapter can be characterized by two or more characters complaining or arguing, most of it amounting to nothing.

Many of the situations in the novel are so contrived and exaggerated beyond sanity. No one writes a best-selling book in two weeks! In addition, the public’s reaction to the book is preposterous. Everyone takes his obviously metaphorical story as literal. No one leaves a child alone in the desert for a month. Seriously, why would anyone believe Luke’s book wasn’t a work of fiction? Yet, masses treat it like the actual bible. Why do they care so much to the point that the press would try to sully this teenage boy’s image and hack a radio interview?

I’ve seen this book mistakenly classified as Christian literature, though it doesn’t deserve the moniker. This book is plainly offensive to a reader from a Christian background because of the sheer fanaticism and naivety that the book associates with Christians. Moreover, the language in the book would be offensive to most Christian readers.

That said, frankly I don’t understand why Christianity is a thing at all in this book. In fact, it makes more sense not to have it. Christianity has no real bearing on the plot other than pointless persecution, fanaticism, and guilt. Frequently, Christianity was used as an attack on an individual's personal character or as a threat. And, no, it’s not just the secular world doing this. Christians did the same thing to other Christians. It’s offensive.

The story is about being yourself and seeing people for who they really are, something I can deeply respect. However, actual religious faith has very little to do with it. We never get to the heart of what these characters believe exactly. Several times we see Luke experience a crisis of faith without a resolution. The issue doesn’t lead towards character development, so why is it presented at all? Why does Christianity matter in the novel if no one cares to tackle with religious issues?

For that matter, the actual road trip takes a back-seat (no pun intended) in the plot. We only really visit one site in detail and its impact only lasts into Luke’s next event, which, of course, he is late for because of his brother.

I haven’t felt this ticked off at a book in a long time. Many, many times I wanted to stop, tear the book to shreds, and burn the pieces. It wasn’t even so bad that it was funny, but I still couldn’t stop reading. This book was just so terrible that I couldn’t comprehend its existence, and thus, I had to finish. However, please, spare yourselves. Don’t start. Leave and never look back. It’ll be the best decision of your life.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Ellen Although I didn't hate this book with the same ferocity as you did, I can honestly say that I agree with you about the characters. ALL of the "major" characters are terrible. Especially Luke. So I'm glad to see that somebody else disliked this book as much as (more than) I did.


Laurel Beedle I thought about writing a review but when I read yours I couldn't help but think: "I couldn't have said it better myself!"


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