2014 · dnf · sci-fi/fantasy · ya

DNF: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Title: Dangerous
Author: Shannon Hale
Pub. Date: March 4, 2014
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury!!)
Summary: Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There’s no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Rating: DNF

Between that beautiful cover and – hello – SHANNON HALE, Dangerous was one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. Unfortunately I could only make it 147 pages in before throwing up a white flag and quitting. How is this from the same author of Princess Academy and The Goose Girl?? The only explanation I can come up with is that Hale has five books coming out this year. F-I-V-E. Clearly that had something to do with the lack of quality of Dangerous; this is not the Shannon Hale I know and love.

Maisie Danger Brown (yes, that’s her real name) enters a sweepstakes on a cereal box for astronaut camp. Much to her surprise she wins and it’s there the story goes downhill. Within 20 pages we have already met the two love interests (and she’s already made out with one of them!). Had I known Dangerous was going to be a romance I wouldn’t have bothered. Maisie’s dream is to become an astronaut, yet once she meets Wilder, she can only think about him, her dream totally forgotten. Jonathan Ingalls Wilder (yes, that’s his real name) is awful. He’s dripping with wealth and despite his groupies that follow him everywhere, Maisie has somehow caught his eye. Get a load of this charmer:

“A home-schooled, black-eyed Latina.” He whistled. “You are turning into a very ripe fruit for the plucking.”

This comes from their first conversation. Wilder flip-flops with his feelings: he can’t get enough of Maisie, yet any time she proves to be smarter than him, he immediately turns cold and starts chatting up another girl. What a guy.

The camp is run by a brilliant scientist I couldn’t stand. I think she was supposed to be an aloof, head-in-the-clouds kind of scientist, but instead, she spends all of her time juggling. The greatest mind of our time, folks. She managed to build the Beanstalk, basically an elevator from Earth to an asteroid. Five campers are chosen to make the trip – Maisie, Wilder, Smart Asian Girl Who Likes Slushies, Beautiful-But-Mean Redhead, and French-African Boy Whose Cursing Is Bleeped (yep. bleeped.). While in space these five kids get to see alien artifacts and wind up absorbing their powers. Now instead of being human caricatures, they’re human caricatures with super powers. Redhead turns into a Juggernaut-esque behemoth and can’t stop eating. Slushie Girl can shoot things from her palms. Maisie discovers an ability to understand technology and build. The first thing she builds? A robot arm, thus rendering her disability (she only had one arm) completely pointless. Why bother having a disabled character if you’re going to give her a special robot arm?

Things Happen (a fight breaks out and characters die) and the kids are on the run. Once Maisie’s back home I lost any interest in Dangerous and judging from the reviews I’ve read, I didn’t miss much by not finishing. Dangerous was SUCH a disappointment. Every single character was a personality trait rather than a person. Maisie’s best friend Luther exists for the sole purpose of being another love interest. In his first scene Maisie comments on “how muscley” he’s become – 7 pages into the book. There’s a page-long joke that goes nowhere. All of the other campers virtually vanish once these five gain their powers.

Although the camp is for anyone 12-17, the writing felt more like a beginner’s chapter book. Very short and simple sentences and any kind of explanation regarding space or technology is glossed over. Also, I’m still unclear as to when this novel takes place. At first I assumed the present day, but now I’m wondering if maybe it’s set in the future? The characters discuss the Rolling Stones and the Beatles though so I’m not entirely sure.

If Shannon Hale’s novels hold any kind of nostalgic feelings for you, do yourself a favor and avoid this one.

Notable Quote:

We were quiet, two tiny specks glued down by gravity, peering at a universe that didn’t notice us back. The quiet and dark made me feel mysterious and stilled, a thing that glints in the dark, an object that can only be understood by careful study. Something like a poem.

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