Review: Mixed Signals by Alyssa Cole

mixed signalsReviewed by Janell

This is the third book in a post-apocalyptic series. I still haven’t read the first, but I reviewed (and enjoyed) the second book here. It’s been a few years since the Flare knocked out all the electricity. Long enough for small power grids to come back on. Long enough for Maggie, the youngest Seong sibling, to get her GED, learn to play the guitar really well, and head off to college.

As the story opens, Maggie is chopping off all of her hair. It’s been her most complimented feature, and she hid behind it a lot. Now that she’s going away to college, she’s ready for a new, more powerful identity.

Her brother’s friend Edwin is driving her there. Maggie has had kind of a crush on Edwin for a while, but he rejected her, so she’s working on getting over it.

“I didn’t want to be that creep, fawning over someone with the hopes that one day I’d beat them into submission and they’d settle for me. What kind of love song would that make? ‘It only took ten years, of you living in fear, but finally you’re mine, baby, please stop crying…’”

Maggie has the Seong sarcasm down. When a girl in the dorm assumes that Maggie loves anime because she’s Korean, Maggie says, “Okay. Am I supposed to ask you for the mayonnaise-based recipes of your people now?” I could fill this whole review with Maggie quotes. She’s tough. She’s adapting. She’s learning to use her words.

On her first day in the dorm, Maggie runs into Devon, the internet boyfriend she never met in person whom she thought was dead. Yeah, that’s a lot of emotional drama right there, and it kicked me in the gut. It’s like her teenage fantasy come to life, and then he kisses her. She takes a moment to swoon, but then it’s back to using her words, trying to find out what happened to him.

Don’t worry, Maggie doesn’t spend all of her time torn between Devon and Edwin. She’s more focused on finding her way in the world. She gets a job, she writes songs, and she texts her family members. She spends time with both guys and discovers qualities that she values in a person. She is also always on guard, well aware that there are power-tripping, smarmy, objectifying men all around her.

The author blends in some of what’s happening in the rest of the country, too. Maggie’s brother John and his boyfriend Mikael are helping to restore the power grid, but they stop by the cafeteria to tease her about boys and also give her lots of moral support. Edwin works with campus security, and Devon meets up with an environmental group that thinks that going back to the old system is a bad idea. It’s an interesting peek into what-ifs, but it doesn’t detract from the main story about Maggie.

This was a fun book with a great narrator. It manages to sustain the post-apocalyptic setting while allowing for progress in the world, and it features a smart, kick-ass heroine.

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Mixed Signals
by Alyssa Cole
Release Date: October 19, 2015
Publisher: Carina Press

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