The third novel in Alyssa Cole’s Off the Grid series, Mixed Signals, may pick up a few years after Signal Boost (read my review here), but the world is still in flux from the Flare (a large solar flare that knocked out much of the world’s electrical system). While the world begins to pick up the pieces and rebuild, Maggie is just beginning her journey. Off to college at her family’s insistence, she isn’t sure who she is and what she wants out of life. She does know that her brother’s friend, Edwin, is super-sexy…and along for the ride. Mixed Signals pulls at your heartstrings, making you really think about the choices that we make and how those choices can move us forward or drag us down.
For Maggie Seong, that means leaving the safety of her family’s cabin for college. She won’t be alone, though—hunky former military cadet Edwin Hernandez, family friend and self-appointed Protector of Maggie’s Virtue, will be there. Maggie would much prefer that Edwin himself dispose of her “innocence,” but he’s already rejected her advances once, and a girl has her pride.
Things look pretty bleak romance-wise until Maggie discovers that Devon, the pre-Flare internet boyfriend she’d assumed was dead, is not only alive but on campus. Despite the passage of time, their bond is strong, and they quickly pick up where they left off. Even as Devon aims for a chance at love IRL—everything Maggie thought she’d wanted—Edwin’s desire to protect her makes her question her heart.
Maggie’s torn between the future she didn’t dare to hope for and the past she can’t let go of. And when a group of neo-Luddite terrorists threaten the campus, everyone’s loyalties will be tested. To ensure that the world doesn’t go back to the dark days following the Flare, Maggie might have to sacrifice it all.
A young woman, branching out and discovering herself, Maggie is dealing with the realities of growing while the world is rebuilding after a devastating act of nature. Thankfully, Maggie has a close family network to keep her grounded and feeling loved. I love that even when Maggie is crumbling inside, she pulls up her bootstraps, digs deep, and keeps going. Perseverance is required for survival in her world.
Tough, and former military, Edwin is older than Maggie by six years. She may not understand or care about the significance of their age difference, but Edwin knows that he must tread lightly. He is multi-faceted and greatly flawed (in other words, totally perfect). Also, the salsa dancing scene – muy caliente. Even though Edwin and Maggie are introduced in the previous books, they both have a chance to really shine in Mixed Signals.
I’m not sure there is anything else I can say about this book (or this series). It’s incredible. Well-written, thoughtful, and full of fun science-stuff, the Off the Grid series is one of my favorites. The dark, and many times dangerous, setting makes the moments of love and laughter stand out that much more. On top of that, I think I just love the Seong family. I want to hang out with them all. The realistic character portrayal is amazing AND the fact that characters are so diverse (racially, socially, economically) makes such a dramatic, post-apocalyptic backdrop intensely believable. The only Mixed Signals I’m getting from this book involves how many times I’ll re-read it.