Book Review: Dangerous by Shannon Hale

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He’s dangerous, I reminded myself.

I was very excited to read this book because way back when, I had read Hale’s The Princess Academy, which I thoroughly liked. I wanted to see how she would handle a futuristic science fiction novel. Unfortunately, I can’t say I like this book anywhere near as much as her other works. My overall opinion of the book is that it’s an okay read. It is pretty much a romance in the guise of a science-fiction.

Plot: Dangerous is about a disabled one-armed girl named Maisie Danger Brown (yes, her middle name is literally Danger) who dreams of being an astronaut. She gets her chance when she wins a sweepstake and is allowed to go to space boot camp. In a turn of events, she comes into contact with alien technology, and everyone seems to be in danger from an unknown force.

One of the main problems I had with this book is the plot. It is very much filled with holes that left me questioning the author’s research because some parts are pretty detailed and scientific, so I’m confused as why there are so many holes in the story. For one thing, a bunch of eleven to eighteen year olds are sent into space on what seems to be a mere whim. There is no clearance needed – no signatures from parents for these minors.

“The container held several items of different shape but similar substances,” said Howell. “They are the first proof of alien life ever discovered. And you are about to become five of only about thirty human beings to see them and touch them.

On top of sending them to space, they let these minors touch alien technology. What the hell? Why? How did this happen?

Maisie: I’m pretty disappointed with how the book treated Maisie’s disability. Aside from comments and insults from the people around her, you wouldn’t know she is disabled. It’s a shame because you don’t get to read many books with a disabled main character, so I was really looking forward to seeing her overcome her challenges. The problem? Before you know it, Maisie gets a brilliantly functioning arm that looks real, so the disability now becomes an advantage. I wish that the book explored Maisie’s difficulties with her disability. Ultimately, it just felt like an add-on.

Also, becoming an astronaut is Maisie’s dream. This boot camp is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Instead of focusing on the prize, Maisie’s attention is occupied by a boy she meets on the first day. Screw using this opportunity to the fullest. Let’s just think about how handsome Wilder is and how his kisses feel.

So I laughed again. “I’m pretty sure there are rules against this sort of thing at astronaut boot camp.”

“I sure hope so,” said Wilder, “or it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.”

So being kicked out of this amazing astronaut boot camp is worth some fling that you’re pretty sure is not going to last? Come on, Maisie. You’re supposed to be smart.

My heart revved like a lawn mower. It was supposed to be a joke. But speaking those words made me feel them, believe them. I missed him, as if he were Luther or my family, someone I cared for who was far away.

This is about 7% into the story. Apparently, Wilder is as important as her family now.

I glanced up to see if he was bored. Instead I felt his hand on my cheek and his lips on mine. Just a touch, a softness, a greeting. One kiss that lasted seven rapid heartbeats.

We’re barely into the book, and they’re already making out.

However, I must say that I do like that Maisie grows as a person throughout the book, and I’m really glad she was able to see that her feelings were not as strong as she had thought it to be. It showed a lot of growth and maturity on her part. I also like the fact that she’s a geek. I’m a geek. I relate.

Romance:The romance is incredibly cheesy and the least interesting part of this book. There’s a love triangle and instalove. The love triangle is predictable: the best friend or a new, smooth (sometimes jerky) guy. The best friend love interest is barely even in the book, and once again, it felt like an add-on. The book could have done without it, so I don’t see the point. In addition, Maisie and Wilder’s relationship goes way too fast for it to be believable, and there are a lot of cheesy lines. Here are some examples:

“A homeschooled, black-eyed Latina.” He whistled. “You are turning into a very ripe fruit for the plucking.”

“You be Europa, and I’ll be your Jupiter.”

“You’d better not talk about microscopes anymore,” he whispered, “or I don’t know if I can control myself.”

Finishing Thoughts: Overall, this book is okay. I’m not too happy with the plot, but it does get better toward the end. There are a lot of missed opportunities in this book which is very disappointing. If you liked Hale’s earlier works, I’m not quite sure you would like this one. I wish that it focused more on the plot rather than the romance which ended up being a very weak aspect for me. This book held a lot of promise, but ultimately, it fell short.

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Book Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

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Actual Rating: 1.5

Overall: For about 90% of this novel, I fully intended to give this book a one star. However, I must admit that it did pique my interest somewhat towards the end of the book. Hence, I raised the rating to 1.5 instead. That being said, I still would not recommend this book because a book shouldn’t become interesting only at the end and the amount of slut shaming in this book is completely unnecessary and offensive.

Plot:This book is about a girl named Anne Merchant who transfers to a super duper exclusive rich school, but this school is not like others. For starters, everyone is competing ruthlessly for the Big V (no, this does not mean what you think it means). The Big V is a race to become Valedictorian, but good grades alone can’t get you the title. Each person gets a guardian who looks into their soul. Apparently, Anne Merchant has a seductive soul. I’m serious. So, you have to decide on how you’re going to live for the next two years – this is called someone’s PT. So if you have a PT of being selfish. This means you steal from people, you stomp on as many people you can to get what you want, etc. You pretty much live like an asshole. And this asshole can become Valedictorian.

The plot is the best part of this book, and that’s not saying much as I didn’t like it very much. I only say this because it simply is the most tolerable part of the book and the reason I read on. I just wanted to find out what the heck was up with this weird-ass school.

Character:Anne is one of the worst main characters I’ve read in a while. She is stupid, judgemental, and just all around annoying. She literally needs everything spelled out for her and takes offense in everything said to her. This is from someone who has a PT of looking closer. She’s supposedly super smart and at the top of her class. Riiiight. And I’m a sparkling rainbow fairy.

“I think half the guys in here were pitching tents watching you.”

When she arrives at the school, she magically grows boobs. I am not kidding. She friggin grows boobs, and suddenly everyone wants her. This particular dialogue happens right after the infamous Dance Battle of this book. There’s a freakin’ dance off in the book. I wish I was kidding.

“You ready to take this on?” she asks. Not asks. Demands.

“Take what on?”

“This!” She runs her hands up and down her body. “Right here. Right now.”

“Wait. Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

She wants to battle. She wants a dance-off.

Dun dun dun. Oooooh it’s soooo on right now.

Laughing, I pull out my California street-dancing swagger, which is insanely tough in this dress and heels, but I can’t help myself. This song is begging for some boom-pop, and I am all over that.

Please no, Anne. Nobody wants to see this, Anne.

The worst aspect of this book is, hands down, the slut shaming. God, there was so many. It’s a pathetic attempt to make Anne look righteous and good because obviously, everyone else is a skank but Anne. This is coming from a supposed outcast herself – the creepy mortician’s daughter. Bitch.

Their bodies, hair, makeup – even the way they rock their uniforms – are undeniable signs of their power on campus and their expectations of a perfectly charmed life, which their daddies will guarantee them. Like four slightly oversexed dolls, they stand at arm’s length from me, thrusting out their cleavage, tossing their straightened silky hair over their shoulders and pursing their pouty, glossy lips.

This of course is before she even talks to these girls. And more slut shaming.

She’s over-the-top sleazy.

“ultra-hooker shoes they have”

There are tons more where that came from, but I won’t torture you guys. Way to be tolerant, Anne. Way to look closer.

Romance: So boring. So so boring. The love interest, Ben, is the most boring character ever. I can’t even make a paragraph about him because he’s so boring. Oh, but he does think Anne is speshul.

“Because you’re different from the rest of us.”

God knows why he’s interested in Anne. He says she‘s smart. Cue laughter from me. Oh Ben. Silly Ben.  Poor misguided Ben.

Finishing Thoughts: I don’t recommend this. It’s boring and quite honestly, aggravating with all the slut shaming and stupidity of Anne Merchant who by the way apparently has a blonde afro. Look at the cover and tell me what you see. I don’t think so, Anne.

So this was a complete dud. Thank you, Anne, for wasting my time. Thank you for reminding how to hate a main character. Most importantly, thank you for being a complete and utter bitch.