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Dangerous - Shannon Hale

Review first appeared on fefferbooks.com

Hey, you know what you’ve never seen from Shannon Hale before? Sci-fi.

I have to fess up: this is the first Hale I’ve ever read. She’s been recommended to me by no fewer than four different friends whose reading taste I trust, and I still hadn’t gotten around to picking up one of her books. Don’t ask me why; Hale is well-known for her Princess Academy and Books of Bayern (The Goose Girl) series. Oh, and then there’s Austenland, a movie version of which was just released on DVD/streaming and I totally have on my queue. She’s clearly an author who knows her audience and how to write.

It was Dangerous that piqued my interest, though. The synopsis reads:

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?

What’s not to like? There’s so much awesome missing from this little blurb, though: a heroine who’s “nerdy,” into science, half-latina, and missing half of her right arm, for starters. A trip to science camp, and some pretty mind-blowing stuff that happens when that trip goes sideways. Oh, and the alien superpowers. (Really! Just trust me.)

Hale’s writing style is entirely enveloping. I was entirely charmed by Dangerous after just a few pages–Hale’s voice is so fresh and bright that it’s impossible not to be drawn in to Maisie’s world. The way Hale writes teenagers and their relationships with friends and family feels so much more authentic to my own experience than a lot of the angst-ridden stuff I sometimes read (I liked my parents, most of the time. Is that so weird?), and I particularly loved the scenes between Maisie and Luther.

The characters, themselves, are all fascinatingly different–there are a few of them I would really have liked to get to know better. I felt like Luther and Maisie’s mom both were fabulous, and I didn’t get quite enough time, there and Dragon fits in that category, too, for different reasons. Wilder was a complicated, emotional high point. Maisie’s dad is just plain lovable. Maisie herself is an optimistic, but no-nonsense kind of girl, and she tells us (cheerily) right up front who she is and what she’s all about. She’s clearly comfortable with who she is, though, and is able to laugh at herself. She’s a fantastic role model.

As for the plot, it’s crazy. C-R-A-Z-Y. There were a couple of times when I had to read in another room so no one would interrupt me. My heart was pounding and I could pretty much feel my eyes bugging out several times–particularly near the end of the book. There is one climactic scene that draws out the dramatic tension for so long and in a way that is so realistic to the situation that there is no way not to just freak the heck out with Maisie. It’s insane, and it’s awesome!

I really don’t know how else to describe the book without giving too much away, and Hale put too much thought and effort into unrolling the story in just the right way for me to ruin it for you. Let me just say that there were a couple of places in the book when I felt like things had shifted, and I wasn’t really sure what was going on. Roll with it. It’ll allll come together in the end, I promise!

4.5 stars. Completely clean, and crazy fun.

Dangerous releases today! Go pick up your copy. Thanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for the opportunity to read the galley.