Unlikely Allies by Tiffany King

Publisher: Self-published

Format: Kindle (August 29, 2012)

Reviewed by: Ellen

Just when I started to think “sigh, just the same as a bazillion other YA books” BOOM! The author pulled an amazing switcheroo on me in a totally awesome way. (And no, not because there are zombies…although who doesn’t love a good zombie story?)

Plot: After Kimberly turns 18 her mother finally tells the truth about her father – he didn’t actually abandon them, rather Kimberly’s mom never even told him she was pregnant. (Because she loved Kimberly so much and didn’t want to share the baby’s affections. WHO DOES THIS?!) At the end of her senior year Kimberly jumps on a plane to spend the summer in rural Colorado getting to know her dad Rick and, unbeknownst to her, helping at the camp he runs for children in foster care: Unlikely Allies. Not only does California-bred, beach-loving, artist Kimberly have no idea how to live in the wilderness or relate to kids, she’s also never had to deal with the immediate hatred she’s subjected to from hottie hot hot Mason – the foster child adopted by Rick years ago. Of course this hatred goes hand in hand with crazypants sexual tension between the two. Just as they seem to be moving from hatred toward affection one of the campers goes missing during a deluge and Kimberly and Mason are paired up to find the little girl. Since Mason knows the trails better than anyone, he and Kimberly are

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given the most dangerous path but when they’re both seriously injured along the way it becomes clear that if they’re not rescued soon they’ll both die. Duh duh duhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Review: So much of this book is just stereotypical YA – the instant hate from the hottie, the fact that the hatred is to cover up that he’s nervous and thinks she’s hot, the intsa-bff she finds at the camp, even the fact that of all the rescue groups it’s only Kimberly and Mason who are injured. But there’s one highly significant area in which this book differs in a completely awesome way: when their lives are in jeopardy it’s Kimberly, not Mason, who is responsible for their survival!

I can easily (like in 30 seconds) name more than a dozen books where the main characters are in danger and the guy saves them. This is the only book – THE ONLY ONE!!! – I can think of where the heroine is responsible. What makes the situation even more remarkable is that Kimberly has zero training or experience in wilderness survival, she mostly has to rely on her intelligence and natural instincts to get them through. Sure, Mason offers advice when he can but the vast majority of the decisions which lead to their survival are made solely by Kimberly. I can’t even tell you how much this kicks ass!! We all know I love an alpha male like nobody’s business but sometimes you just want to read a book in which the heroine uses the intelligence which has been touted throughout the book, rather than just instantly relying on the hero.

Even if this book had gone the stereotypical “guy saves them” route I still would have enjoyed it, just not to the degree I did. I liked Kimberly, the campers, the stuff about Kimberly’s art, the friendships she makes, her dad, hell I even liked Mason most of the time (although I really struggle to like him when he’s being all woe-is-me about his injury…but I’m not going to count that against him since who wouldn’t have the same issues?). The only person I didn’t really love was Kimberly’s mom but then it a challenge to connect with a character who didn’t even let her baby daddy know she was pregnant because she didn’t want to share the child’s affections. F’ing ridiculous.

In the end I’m going to give this one a 10 out of 10.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 10+++. First off: Kimberly loves CW shows and can debate the merits of one show vs another. Since I have a pathetic love of WAY too many CW shows this made her automatically awesome in my book. (Side note: last year I realized I was watching a show on the CW every day Monday-Friday. Sometimes more than one per night. My soul died a little upon that realization.) She handles finding out about her father way better than I would, works really hard to help these kids connect to art and make it fun, doesn’t take any crap from Mason, and even realizes on her own that she can’t make changes in her life based on a boy but needs to focus on what is best for her. Then there’s the whole “solely responsible for the survival of two people based on using her intelligence and being completely kick ass” thing. Oh, and she even took one of the classes I’m currently enrolled in – Teaching Diverse Populations. I have to love this girl!

How much did I like the love interest: 9. I want to give Mason a 10 but I can’t because of his attitude toward Kimberly both when they first meet and after they’re rescued. That being said I’m not taking away as many points as I would if I didn’t understand why he acts the way he does – but understanding doesn’t mean I have to like it. Yes he was trying to protect Rick but after he realized Kimberly is awesomesauce why does it take so long to get over his dickish behavior? And he should realize that she doesn’t care about his injury…but what he went through can’t be downplayed and he had a lot of things to work out on his own. He’s lucky he’s so hot. And great with kids. And sexy when he’s not being a jerk.

How believable is the plot: 10. Completely believable. And gives me hope that if I were in a life or death situation I could act like Kimberly and realize I’m intelligent enough to find a way to safety. Hopefully while making out with a hot guy along the way.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. No editing issues, and the book really flowed. I also liked that just when I’d start to think everything was going to fast the timeline would slow down a bit.

How much did I want to keep reading: 9. I wasn’t completely engrossed at first because I just expected it to be the usual plot but once I realized where the author was going with the “stranded in the wilderness” plot I was completely sucked in.

Final Score: 10/10. We need more kickass girl books! With happily ever afters, of course.

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3 thoughts on “Unlikely Allies by Tiffany King

  1. So, how many pages in until you thought it was getting good? I ask cuz I usually stop after about 20 pages if I’m bored already.

    • Ellen always gives me a 50 page rule – if by page 50, I’m still not engaged, I can skip it! She said that about this one and her all time fave Sanctum by Sarah Fine. Let us know if you pick this one up!

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