Friday, February 21, 2014

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

by Shannon Hale
Read: January 9 - 11, 2014
March 4, 2014 by Bloomsbury
Source: NetGalley
Category: Sci-fi, YA

Find: Goodreads | Amazon

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.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else?


I am a big fan of Shannon Hale. I've read several of her Middle Grade and adult novels, and really enjoyed them. Dangerous is the fourth of Hale's books that I've read. Unfortunately, this YA book wasn't really for me. 

It all starts with a box of blue cereal and only gets crazier from there. Maisie's mom comes home from the grocery store one day with a box of cereal that she's only bought because it was on sale. It doesn't turn out to be very good for eating, but on the back is an add for a contest to win a trip to space camp that instantly gets Maisie's attention. Traveling in space - or really anywhere - has always been a dream of hers, although so far she's lived a fairly sheltered life as a suburban home school student.  Maisie immediatly goes online to fill out the information. A few weeks later she gets a response….spoiler alert: she gets into space camp!

Dangerous is the type of plot that starts in one small place and builds exponentially from there. You don't really know where it's going for quite a ways into the story, so it's better not to even try to guess. I don't want to reveal a lot of the story, because the official descriptive copy is so vague. But I will say that the space camp part of the book only takes up about the first 15% of the novel. After that, it's possible you might find some allusions to space travel, alien activity and/or superheroes. 

The slowly unraveling of the full picture, coupled with lots of changing plot directions and potential bad guys, all combined to give me a sense that I was missing something through most of this book. The story didn't go in a direction that I anticipated, and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it didn't fully work for me in this case. Without spoiling this book, the content just wasn't my thing. Mostly it felt confusing and chaotic, instead of exciting. A lot happens very quickly in the beginning, but it takes until about 70% to get the full big picture. 

I struggled a lot with the romance in this story. It took me a long time to figure out whether I could trust the love interest, and that greatly affected my attachment to him. I also didn't really care for him for most of the book. Plus I wanted the other guy to win Maisie's heart. However I am happy that it never turns into a love triangle, and I thought that Maisie was smart about the relationship for the most part. By the end of the book, I did feel better about the romance, but it took me a while to get there. 

I enjoyed Maisie's relationship with her parents. Hale definitely countered the absent parent YA trope in this book. Maisie's parents are included in her life and for the most part know what's going on with her throughout the story. I especially loved the way Maisie and her parents fiercely protect and support each other.  One thing I totally forgot to mention, which is a big part of Maisie's life - but also never a crutch for her - is her lack of one arm. I like that Hale made this part of Maisie, and that it isn't a big deal, but also is.

Dangerous is twisty and high on action, and I think it will appeal to a wide variety of girl and boy readers (perhaps younger YA), including reluctant readers. But it wasn't a hit for me. 

Love Triangle Factor: None - Mild
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone


  1. I've been struggling a lot, lately, with MG and YA marketed for younger teens. It just lacks a little something I desire in my novels, so I've stopped reading Hale's work as a consequence. I remember enjoying her prose and story lines when I was younger, but I'm sure I'd have the same difficulties as you if I were to read this installment now. Thanks for such an honest and helpful review, Lauren - beautifully written as always! :)

  2. I liked the beginning of this book with Maisie and her family and the strange but cool space camp. And then they got the tokens and it all went south for me. Too much, too crowded with all the things happening too fast and yet not fast enough and...blurg. I read the whole book, no DNF, but it came darn close.

  3. I liked the beginning too (though it felt a bit MG) but I don't know what happened from there. The book felt like a mess. Tone shifts and I had the hardest time connecting w/the characters. Even ones I liked in the beginning I began to care less about. I was so sad this one didn't work for me. Seems you had a similar experience :-(

  4. I started this one Lauren, made it about 50 pages in, and just couldn't work up the enthusiasm to go further for all the reasons you so eloquently listed in your review. I was really surprised the space camp was over so quickly, I expected the bulk of the story to take place there so I was thrown a little off kilter when things were wrapping up right as I set the book down. I also couldn't buy into the romance, though I did hope maybe I'd just given up too soon and things got better later in the story. Based on your review however, that doesn't seem to be the case. Overall I was really bummed about this one, I had huge expectations going in (my own fault) and I just couldn't get into it. As always though, you're thoughts are beautifully expressed!!!!

  5. I've been seeing a lot of "meh" reviews on this one, which is a shame since it is THE Shannon Hale. Oh well, at least it's a standalone, right?

  6. Ok, sci-fi isn't really my thing, but the premise sounds good. Oh superheroes? Whoop! I like how it's not predictable, though I am sorry that you didn't enjoy the romance and that a lot of the content wasn't really your thing. Yay for fiercely protective and supportive parents. (Glad to know they exist in YA lit.) Also, good thing for bringing a character with a disability. Not many of those and they need some lovin' too. I'm sorry you had so many issues, but I'm also glad that you didn't hate it.

  7. Oh... judging from the responses here, this one is a miss with most of the community. I'm not very interested after learning about all the confusing plot threads --not that I can't handle confusion, but it sounds like this one never fully comes together; or if it does, it doesn't come together in impressive fashion. Also, the disconnect in the romance doesn't help either. Still, you found other great qualities about the story to enjoy and that's always valuable. Lovely review, Lauren! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

  8. So disappointing to hear, I was actually looking forward to this one, but after reading your review and the comments above, I think I'll pass. Thanks for the honest review! ~Pam

  9. I'm very intrigued by DANGEROUS. It doesn't sound like a book I'd normally read, but it's Shannon Hale! I'm a bit wary after seeing such meh responses from others, but I'll definitely still give it a try.

  10. I was going to say this sounded like a middle grade read and then you mentioned at the end that it might be more suited for the younger YA reader. It does seem like a fun adventure but not really my type of read. Lovely review, Lauren! :)

  11. Most books that are written with younger YA readers in mind don't seem to work for me either, Lauren--which is funny since I actually do like middle grade books. I even have a frustrated "MG not YA" shelf on GoodReads for a handful of books that I felt would have worked better for a younger age group. Sorry you were disappointed in this one!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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