Review: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Dangerous

Dangerous felt like a really bad joke. I went into this book knowing very little about it, and that still doesn’t explain how random and confusing it was. The characters lacked depth and personality, and the plot didn’t flow well and felt disorganized. Dangerous attempted to make light of dire situations and ended up being inconsistent and unfocused; the only thing dangerous about it was the heroine’s middle name.

Title: Dangerous
Author: Shannon Hale
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Category: (Young Adult) Science Fiction / Romance / Adventure
Source: NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Introduction

Maisie Danger Brown (yes, that’s her real middle name) wins a sweepstakes from a Blueberry Bonanza cereal box and gets herself an entry to the Howell Astronaut Boot Camp. She’s excited to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, and this is her opportunity to go up the Beanstalk, the first space elevator built by Bonnie Howell that goes thirty-six-thousand kilometers up into space. Maisie leaves behind her best-friend-who-wants-to-be-more-than-friends to spend the summer at space camp, where she forms a “fireteam” with the constantly cussing Jacques, red-headed Ruth, and slushie-loving Mi-Sun. She also ends up falling for Jonathan Ingalls Wilder (again, real name), who keeps sending Maisie mixed signals. However, there’s more to space camp than meets the eye, and Maisie finds herself thrust into more dangerous situations than she expected.

Discussion

Okay, so now you know more about Dangerous than I did when I started reading the book. But even if I had known what this book was about before I read it, I’d still be unpleasantly surprised by the plot. The storyline feels choppy and unfocused, and the “fireteam” concept isn’t elaborated on past the first here’s-a-mission-go event. There’s just not enough backstory and details throughout the story’s progression, and I was confused about where the story was going most of the time. The kids just go with the flow, but the flow isn’t well thought out, so the camp itself feels wishy-washy and disorganized. I don’t want to give away the plot, but this story tries to merge together several science fiction tropes by introducing each trope separately, and I wish that I was given a glimpse of the big picture beforehand.

Maisie Brown was likable at the beginning of the story, but her character development is lacking and the plot holes make it worse. She has a physical disability that makes me care about her, but I should really say that she had a physical disability because it basically disappears with the introduction of high-tech stuff at space camp. Maisie ends up having all these add-ons that obscure her true character, and I ended up not caring for her as much as I would’ve liked to.

The other characters are even more poorly developed; The Boy is crazy inconsistent in his feelings for Maisie and his actions in general, and weak explanations of why he did what he did after the events in question do not work in garnering my sympathy for him as a main character. The love triangle thing going on between Maisie, The Boy, and the best-friend-back-home feels forced and awkward. Take away all these love interests, and Dangerous would actually be a better read.

The other members of the fireteam don’t really have personalities… they just have quirks. They don’t connect with Maisie at all, and even Maisie herself feels sorry for them at times rather than actually caring for them as a friend would. And Bonnie Howell is supposed to be this brilliant, intelligent woman, but she seems more like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory in that she tries to be entertaining in the most serious of moments and has no social skills whatsoever.

The pacing of the story is also strange because of the constant shift between lagging moments and fast-paced, action-packed moments. The story spans more than half a year, and there are events that seem unnecessarily drawn out. The characters also don’t develop much after these time lapses, and I really expected them to grow because, look, you had half a year!

But usually, for books that don’t work for me, I try to imagine them as TV shows or movies and somehow they work better in that media (in my mind). Dangerous works slightly better for me when I imagine it in that form just because there’s a lot of cool technology, but overall, the inconsistencies in the plot and the characters would still make it a not-so-enjoyable TV show.

Conclusion

I was unpleasantly surprised by Dangerous, possibly because I came in with high expectations for a Shannon Hale book. But the wacky plot and poorly developed characters threw me off, and even though this is a blend of sci-fi tropes that I haven’t seen before, I didn’t like Dangerous.

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13 thoughts on “Review: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

  1. There’s a girl with “Danger” as a middle name and there’s a boy with “Ingalls” as a middle name (not to mention “Wilder” as his surname). Wow. Okay. Hey, Sophie, I think we can both change our middle names to “Pepsi” and “Peanut-butter” without being too ridiculous now.

    Anyways. It sort of seems to me that this book is a Trope Romp, meaning that it’s basically a book that blatantly uses tropes and either makes fun of them or plays them seriously to the point of making tropes not seem like tropes anymore. I’m not really sure which one Dangerous is attempting to be…

    I do generally like Trope Romps, but I think I’ll pass on this one. And if you like the idea of a “good on the surface, sinister behind the scenes” type of premise, I would recommend How to Lead a Life of Crime. It’s pretty awesome.

    • Oh, it’s the first time I’ve heard of the Trope Romp! But yeah, Dangerous just didn’t mix the tropes quite right… and adding How to Lead a Life of Crime to my list! Now I’m paranoid that the government will start tracking me because of all these suspicious keywords I’m searching, eep.

        • Ahaha, I’ve heard crazy stories about authors who get in trouble for trying to do online researches on controversial topics for their books, and even about authors’ computers automatically deleting words in their documents. :S

  2. Haha, Danger as an actual middle name and not just a joke? LOL. Ah, poorly developed characters are the worst. And it even has a love triangle? No, just no.
    I have never heard of this book before and now I know to avoid it if I ever come across it. Thanks! πŸ™‚

    • Yes, so many bad things happened to this one. I’ll probably read some older Shannon Hale books soon to redeem her work in my eyes, haha. Thanks for reading, Cayce! πŸ˜€

  3. Oh, that’s a shame, because I usually like Shannon Hale (although ‘Midnight in Austenland’ comes to mind as an example of Hale just being apparently SUPER lazy about plot/character development, so it does happen). I really love her Bayern books, and have ‘Dangerous’ reserved at the library, so I’ll probably give it a go anyway… but now I’m nervous! πŸ˜€

    • Ahhh, let me know what you think after you read Dangerous, Sarah! But I’ll probably be reading The Goose Girl next because I feel like I’d like that one better.

      • To me, the Bayern books are definitely her best. The last of the four, ‘Forest Born,’ is my favoritest, but I think they’re all really good. I just read them again last year – actually, I went through a strange Shannon hale binge, reading both Austenland books, both Princess Academy books, and all four Bayern books pretty much right in a row!

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