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Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Dangerous (2014)

by Shannon Hale

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Dangerous by Shannon Hale is a YA science fiction book and the first I've read by the author. I picked it up a while ago (I think it was as part of my "let's read all the books with disabled protagonists" thing in the lead up to Defying Doomsday). I finally got around to reading it, partly because I was in the mood for some YA, and partly because of the recent announcement that she'll be writing Captain Marvel and Squirrel Girl tie in novels. I figured I should make sure her writing was all right before getting too excited.

The thing that stood out for me most, reading Dangerous, was how not formulaic it was. For whatever reason, I was expecting a fairly formulaic read set in space about a girl with no arm. It wasn't set in space either, except very briefly. It was about a girl with no hand on one of her arms, so that part was right, although note how it's not mentioned in the blurb while the space bit is. No wonder I was surprised. Actually, the only expected element of this book was the part with the world being saved. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

Maisie is a smart teenager whose two scientist parents have decided to home-school her. (And hence she has one friend, a fellow home-school-ee.) She enters a competition on the back of a cereal box to go to astronaut boot camp and wins a spot. I always enjoy female protagonists that are into science and Maisie definitely doesn't disappoint on that front.

In terms of plot, I was surprised that the astronaut boot camp was over pretty quickly and was just a set up for the next phase of the novel. Even more surprising was that the next phase was also fairly transient. (I realise these statements are vague, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers.) The story does not take the most direct route to get to the end, which kept me wondering what would happen next until more than half way through (at which point the saving the world part became more obvious).

I liked the romantic story line in Dangerous for a few reasons. First it was absolutely not the main part of the story, second, it wasn't a love triangle, despite how it first may have appeared. Most importantly, Maisie prioritises saving the world and the safety of her family over any boys she may or may not have feelings for. She's also not too blindly trusting, especially once she has reason to be suspicious, which I appreciated.

Oh and I should mention the science. There was only one physics thing the author got wrong that bothered me (the space elevator trip did not take them high enough to be weightless, they would have felt a diminished gravitational pull the entire time). Which did bother me but didn't make me angry, just disappointed. It's at the level of physics knowledge that the characters themselves should've had, which is the most irritating part. But everything else was fine or at least hand-wavingly explained away by alien magic.

I quite enjoyed Dangerous and I am definitely interested in reading more books by Shannon Hale. I'm not sure all her books are for me — for example, I'll stick with the movie of Austenland and probably won't bother with the books for younger readers, but I am definitely up for Captain Marvel and Squirrel Girl. Marvel tie-ins aside, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any future books from Hale that align with my interests. I definitely recommend Dangerous to all fans of YA science fiction.

4.5 / 5 stars ( )
  Tsana | Nov 3, 2015 |
Ms. Hale can always be relied on for a good tale, well told. Maisie is such a likable character - brave when she wants to run and hide, firm even when she wants to give in, with good friends and great family. She makes the story of alien invasion interesting and exciting. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Jul 3, 2015 |
  bkmuse7 | Jun 15, 2015 |
After reading the first couple of chapters for free on my Kindle, I knew two things:
1. I was going to pre-order the book immediately.
2. This would be my read-aloud to my freshman classes this year.

The book came, and kept me up all night. Then kept my 25-year-old daughter, 24 year-old-son-in-law, and several tween-aged friends up all night, too.

Maisie is a real, sheltered teenaged girl. She also happens to be missing half her right arm. Her yearning to enlarge her world takes her to astronaut camp where she is infected with alien technology. Eventually, it becomes up to her to save the world. There is drama. There is fighting. There is teen-aged romance. Her voice is strong and real.

My freshmen beg for more every time I stop.

This book had BETTER become a movie some day. ( )
  swingdancefan | Apr 22, 2015 |
Hale's writing is always, always, always fabulous, and Dangerous was no different. Maisie is one of my favorite heroines of all time, and I love how this story played out. Everyone must read it. ( )
  jwarbler | Jan 31, 2015 |
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When aspiring astronaut Maisie Danger Brown, who was born without a right hand, and the other space camp students get the opportunity to do something amazing in space, Maisie must prove how dangerous she can be and how far she is willing to go to protect everything she has ever loved.… (more)

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