“Oho, Ms. Hale!” I exclaimed, clapping my hands together. “I see what you did there. That was rather clever, really.”
The woman leaned back in her seat, taking a sip from her steaming mug of cocoa to hide her smile. “Well, I do pride myself on my rapier wit.”
I reached for the crusty bear-shaped bottle of honey set on the kitchen table, scraping some of the crystallized sugary goodness out and stirring it into my tea. The secret to the perfect brew is to use old, nearly solid honey. That way, it melts slowly and you get to suck the little leftover bits off of the spoon. “I am simply adoring all of these science jokes,” I continued. “Warms me right down to my nerdy bones.”
“Oh, it’s just too much fun,” Shannon said. “But what do you think of Dragon?”
“Well, the name did catch my attention,” I said, nodding thoughtfully. “Though I did think for a moment he was a transgender. Weird misunderstanding there.”
Shannon laughed, nearly snorting hot chocolate all over the table. “Really?” she said. “Oh, goodness!”
I giggled. “I know! Not to mention–” I cut off, a strange, high-pitched whistling noise ringing in my ears.
Then the kitchen exploded.
The above excerpt accurately represents my reaction to Shannon Hale’s most recent novel, Dangerous.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this review, however, I would like to offer the following disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Shannon Hale. I adore her books. I read her blog. I wish she was my next door neighbor so we could talk books and writing and political issues and how gosh darn cute her kids are. As such, I might be slightly biased in my review. But that’s okay, because I’ll try to be entertaining while I’m about it.
Dangerous is a book about super heroes. It’s also a book about first love, about trusting your family, about doing what’s right even when you’re scared out of your mind, and also just how awesome(ly fun) it is to be a science nerd. If you like science fiction, or super heroes, or Shannon Hale, I highly recommend this book.
To be completely honest, though, the first section of the book might feel a little bit…meh. Mediocre? No, not exactly — more distant, really. The entire first part of the book I got this surreal sensation that I was simply skimming the book, pausing to snicker at a few well-placed jokes. I understand now that this first section is not the story Hale was setting out to tell, but it was necessary background for the rest of the book to make sense. I kind of wish she’d told it in flashbacks rather than skimping on the details, but I had fun with it either way — even if only because it felt like a fantastic little tea party with one of my favorite authors.
And then the first character died, which basically dropped a nuclear bomb on my tea party.
But in a good way.
For a science fiction novel splattered with super heroes, aliens, alien technology, space elevators, and mutant diseases, Dangerous felt like a strangely realistic book to me. The danger feels real, the emotions feel real, but more than anything, the world feels real. I can’t really figure out how to explain this. For example, when Maisie, our main character, gets herself into trouble, she actually involves her parents. Which I can never, in the history of ever, recall reading in a YA novel before.
I don’t know what else to say but read this book. I loved the characters. I loved the story. Sure, there were places where the distant, skimming-writing pulled me out, but the humor more than made up for it. It’s a fun read, and I can (almost) guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did.
And now, in closing (and since I promised Sabrina A. Fish more corny puns), what do you call a dangerous precipitation? A rain of terror.