I chose to read First Date for primarily nostalgic reasons. I was hoping for a fun, light read to get my mind off a deep, heavy book I had read recently. First Date is about Addy, a girl who is convinced to star in a reality TV show to compete for the affections of the President’s son and win the chance to be his prom date. It’s very much like The Bachelor and a Miss Teen USA pageant combined into one. Addy doesn’t want to be on the show, but is pretty much forced to go. Deciding to just be herself, Addy easily and unexpectedly starts winning over American audiences and possibly the First Son’s heart as well.
Seems like a cute read, right? And it was to an extent. However there were two major factors that stopped me from enjoying First Date. The first one was the horribly predictable and ridiculous plot. I’ll be honest and admit that going in I knew the plot would be predictable and maybe a little silly. Yet, I still felt that the book would try to be somewhat realistic. It’s not realistic at all. There are just too many convenient plot developments or twists. The worst was when the plot sidelined into a president assassination attempt. It was silly and just would never happen. I mean, what serious assassins discuss openly their plans to kill a president at a diner full of people? On top of that, it was easy to predict the outcome of everything that Addy was about to do.
My other major problem with the book is a tougher one to sort out. What I didn’t know when I started First Date was that it’s Christian Fiction. I will start out by saying that I’m Catholic and have attended Catholic school my entire life. I believe in God, Jesus and all that. So usually, I’m okay if I read story that deals with any amount of religion. First Date was too preachy for my tastes. Not that I needed convincing in the religion department, but I think this book really puts Christianity in the reader’s face. It sort of made me uncomfortable. I started it out liking Addy. She’s a sweet, smart and likable character. I instantly understood that her faith was important to her. But as the story went on, it kept getting brought up. Yes, we KNOW that God has you there for a reason, Addy. Let’s move on. It morphed from just a character trait into an element of the plot. One of Addy’s adversaries is the host of the reality TV show. We later find out that he’s a “God-hater,” and it’s Addy’s mission to make him believe in God. That, in itself, was silly as well, because it played out way too easy, and in reality, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
One part that really bugged me was when Addy was worried if the First Son (who she had already realized that she very much liked) was Christian or not. If he wasn’t Christian, she could only have “friendship” with him. Really?! She meets a boy that she has a true connection with, but if he’s not Christian, she has to drop him. That entire notion just reeks with hypocrisy. It’s really something that I’ve always held issue with, in general. I was very annoyed that it was brought up in this story. But of course, as I have mentioned, you already know that this controversy wasn’t taken much further and that it all ends with “happily ever after.”
First Date started out okay and ended up disappointing. If the religion was toned down a bit, I would’ve enjoyed it more. I’ve never read Christian Fiction before, so I don’t know if all of their books are this preachy. Whatever the case, First Date had the opportunity to give readers a fun and somewhat inspiring read, but only managed to push Christianity at us with a ridiculous and cliché plot.
Rating: 1.5/5 stars
First Date is now in bookstores. You can purchase it here.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 10, 2012)
Length: 336 pages, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Christian Fiction, Romance
Completed: January 2012