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Dangerous

Dangerous

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Dangerous

valutazioni:
3.5/5 (86 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
414 pagine
5 ore
Pubblicato:
Mar 4, 2014
ISBN:
9781619631557
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

"Master storyteller Hale takes readers to dizzying new heights . . . A can't-miss adventure." --Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken

In this thrilling sci-fi adventure, New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale asks the question: How far would you go to save the world?


When Maisie Danger Brown nabbed a spot at a NASA-like summer boot camp, she never expected to uncover a conspiracy that would change her life forever.

And she definitely didn't plan to fall in love.

But now there's no going back--Maisie's the only thing standing between the Earth and annihilation. She must become the hero the world needs. The only problem is: how does a regular girl from Salt Lake City do that, exactly? It's not as though there's a handbook for this sort of thing. It's up to Maisie to come up with a plan--and find the courage to carry it out-before she loses her heart . . . and her life.

Equal parts romance and action-adventure, this explosive story is sure to leave both longtime Shannon Hale fans and avid science fiction readers completely breathless.
Pubblicato:
Mar 4, 2014
ISBN:
9781619631557
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Shannon Hale ("Bouncing the Grinning Goat") began writing at age ten—mostly fantasy stories where she was the heroine. She never stopped. She writes bestselling books for kids and adults and also writes graphic novels. Her book Princess Academy was named a Newbery Honor Book in 2006. Shannon lives with her family near Salt Lake City, Utah. 


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Anteprima del libro

Dangerous - Shannon Hale

Hale

Prologue

The warehouse was coffin dark. I put out a hand, feeling my way up the stairs.

I knew I wasn’t alone.

I strained to hear movement. A scuffed foot, the rustle of clothing. The clink of ammunition. Anything.

There was nothing. Just the sound of my own labored breathing.

If I had known all that would happen these past months, would I still have entered that stupid sweepstakes?

No, I thought. Never.

But my hand pressed against the tokens in my chest, protective.

I climbed faster.

Our team was shattered. Two of us left. Only one would walk away from this encounter. But I didn’t want to kill again. And I didn’t want to die.

Part One

Fireteam

Chapter 1

Every superhero has an origin story. Mine began with a box of cereal.

Mom? I said, pulling a box of Blueberry Bonanza out of a grocery sack. Really?

I’d like to say I was helping her unload the groceries because I’m that wonderful. In fact it was an excuse to escape. When she’d returned from the store, I’d been working on Accursed Geometry.

They were on sale, Mom said. I thought you’d like to try something different.

I opened the box and poured some Fruitish Nuggets and Marshmallow Fun into my hand to show her.

Oh! she said. I didn’t realize they were so blue.

"Guácala," I said. The Spanish word for gross sounded so perfectly gross.

"Guácala," she agreed.

I was going to put the cereal in solitary confinement on a high shelf when I noticed the words Astronaut Boot Camp on the back of the box:

SWEEPSTAKES OPEN TO U.S. RESIDENTS AGES

12–18. GRAND PRIZE INCLUDES THREE WEEKS

AT HOWELL ASTRONAUT BOOT CAMP.

Thanks for the spontaneous help, Mom was saying as she put away the fridge items. Am I correct in assuming I’m saving you from geometry?

Now, Mom, you know I find nothing so thrilling as calculating the area of a triangle.

I shelved the box, too ashamed to show Mom the sweepstakes. Since I was five I wanted to be an astronaut. But little kids always dream of being astronauts, princesses, or spies and then grow up to realize that’s impossible. I should have outgrown my space fantasy by now.

Hey, Maisie, Dad said, coming in from the garage. Did you hear about the dog that gave birth to puppies in the park? She was arrested for littering.

Heard it, I said. Can you really not remember which puns you’ve tried on me?

I have a photographic memory, but it was never developed.

Heard that one too.

Newly motivated, I hurried through math so I could get on the Astronaut Boot Camp website. In order to enter the sweepstakes online, I had to fill out a survey. It was crazy long.

Wow, there’s something shockingly unnatural about bright-blue food, isn’t there? Dad called from the kitchen. How had he even found the cereal? Did you know there’s no FDA-approved natural source for blue food dye?

Yep.

The color blue is an appetite suppressant, our body’s primal instinct to warn us away from poisonous things, he went on, in full lecture mode. Blueberries are actually purple skin around green pulp. And red foods like maraschino cherries owe their color to the ground-up bodies of female cochineal insects.

Mom bought the cereal, I called back. I started to feel guilty, as if I were lying to my parents, so I added, Um, read the back of the box.

Oh! Dad leaned around the kitchen wall. Maisie, you know the odds of winning the sweepstakes must be astronomical, no pun intended. For once.

I know. I just thought, why not enter, right?

Okay then. When you grow up to be a famous astronaut, don’t forget your humble roots. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

Enough already!

And the survey went on and on.

This is weird …

What? Dad was sitting on the couch now, reading a science journal and absently rubbing his bald spot. These past few years, the spot had degraded into more of a bald territory. He had only a rim of puffy hair left. I was afraid I’d hurt his feelings if I suggested he just shave it all off.

It’s a marketing survey, I said, but listen to these questions: ‘How would you rate your memorization ability? How many languages do you speak at home?’ Here’s my favorite: ‘What would you do if you were in an elevator on the fiftieth floor of a building, the brakes broke, and you began to plummet?’

Dad put down the journal. "What would you do?"

I’d climb through the hatch in the elevator’s ceiling, take off my pants, wrap them around one of the cables and tighten until I slowed my fall, and then I’d swing onto a ledge and wait for rescue.

And put your pants back on, of course.

I frowned at him. I just escaped a runaway elevator, and you’re worried that someone will see me without pants?

"Are you kidding? My baby girl is a teenager—I worry about everything. ¡Cariña! he shouted toward Mom in their bedroom, which doubled as her office. Can we hire someone to guard Maisie for the next several years? Maybe a Navy SEAL?"

"¡Adelante! she shouted back. Mom was Paraguayan. Even though she’d been living in the States since she was eighteen, she still had an awesome accent. Get a cute one with a full head of hair."

Hey! he said, and she giggled at her own joke.

I thought my plan would work—that is, if I had two hands to grab the pants. In my mom’s uterus, amniotic bands had wrapped around my forearm, and I was born without a right hand.

It was my right arm’s fault I was into space. When I was old enough to dress myself, Dad replaced buttons on my clothes with Velcro, saying, Velcro—just like the astronauts. I’d wanted to know more, and a few library books later, I was a space geek.

Howell Astronaut Boot Camp? he said, reading over my shoulder. I didn’t know Bonnie Howell ran a summer camp.

Bonnie Howell was, of course, the billionaire who built the Beanstalk—the world’s only space elevator. Library books published less than ten years ago still called a space elevator decades away. But the Beanstalk’s very real ribbon of carbon nanotubes connected an ocean platform to an asteroid in geostationary orbit, thirty-six thousand kilometers up. (That’s twenty-two thousand miles, but I was raised on the metric system. A side effect of having scientist parents.)

She said she started the boot camp to ‘ignite the love of science in the teenage mind,’ I said, scanning a Wikipedia article. Hey, did you know she has a full space station on the Beanstalk’s anchoring asteroid? She uses the station for mining operations and unspecified research.

Dad perked up. To him, research meant hours of nonstop fun, and all in the comfort of a white lab coat! He went off to call his science buddies for more details.

There was a single knock at the door, and Luther let himself in.

"Buenas tardes," he said.

"Buenas, mijo, Mom greeted him from her room. Get something to eat!"

Luther shuffled to the kitchen and returned with graham crackers smeared with chocolate hazelnut spread. He was wearing his typical white button-down shirt, khaki pants, and black dress shoes. He sat in Dad’s vacated spot on the couch, setting his plate on the threadbare armrest.

Did you finish Accursed Geometry so we can talk science project? Luther scowled at me, but he didn’t mean it. He just needed glasses, but he refused to succumb to another stereotype of the nerd.

Yeah, hang on a sec … I answered the last question on the marketing survey and clicked SUBMIT. Okay, your turn.

I grabbed Luther’s arm and pulled him into the computer chair.

Maisie, what are—

Wow, you’re all muscly. My hand was on his upper arm, and when he’d tried to fight me off, he flexed his biceps. We’d been home-schooling together for five years. When had he gone and grown muscles?

I squeezed again. Seriously, you’re not scrawny anymore.

He pulled away, his face turning red. I pretended not to notice, filling him in on the sweepstakes. He laughed when I told him my answer to the elevator question.

That only works in the movies. Never mind. Think science project. Could a lightweight car function as a kind of electromagnet, repelling the Earth’s magnetic force so it could hover—

Reducing friction, and therefore using less energy to propel itself? Definitely!

Luther started sketching out ideas. I smiled and pretended enthusiasm, as I had been for the past year. Pretending.

My world felt like it was shrinking—my tiny house, my tiny life. Mom and Dad. Luther. Riding my bike in the neighborhood. Studying space but going nowhere. Why did everyone else seem fine but I felt as if I were living in a cage I’d outgrown two shoe sizes ago?

Luther had a big extended family with reunions and camping trips and dinners. They went to church, joined homeschool clubs, played sports.

My parents believed in staying home.

I told myself I could survive without change. Things weren’t that bad. College wasn’t so far away. Then astronaut boot camp taunted me. It could be a fascinating experiment: take Maisie out of her natural habitat, put her in a new place with astronomical possibilities (some pun intended), and see what happens.

You could say I regularly checked the website for updates, if regularly means twenty times a day. For weeks and weeks.

Dad and I were talking, Mom said one day, "and when—if you don’t win, maybe we can save up to send you next summer."

Thanks, Mom, I said, but I knew there was no way they could afford it.

I had to win. The degree of my wanting alarmed me. I’d always been certain of four things:

1. I wanted to be an astronaut.

2. Space programs recruited the able-bodied types.

3. I had to be so good at science my limb lack wouldn’t matter.

4. Science requires objectivity, and emotions create errors. To be the best scientist, I needed to rid myself of cumbersome human emotions.

I winced my way through the spring, trying to become Maisie Robot. I thought I’d prepared myself for the inevitable disappointment when I came home from Luther’s one day to a year’s supply of Blueberry Bonanza on our front porch. The accompanying letter left no doubts:

YOU WON!

YOU WON YOU WON YOU WON YOU WON!

It was happening. That huge, whooshing engine of anticipation wasn’t going to zoom past and leave me in the dust. I lay back on the stoop, hugging one of those boxes of nasty cereal, and stared up at the sky. At a glance, the blue seemed solid, but the longer I stared, the more it revealed its true nature as a shifting thing, not solid and barely real.

The sky seemed as artificial as the cereal in my arms. It wasn’t a cage. I wasn’t really trapped. I was about to break free.

Chapter 2

You’ll be gone three weeks?

Yeah.

Oh. Luther stared at his feet, tilting his shoe so his laces slopped to one side and then the other. That seems like a long time.

Generally speaking, when your best friend wins a sweepstakes, you’re supposed to say congratulations.

Best friend … He said it softly, and I realized that we’d never used that term before.

After that, he avoided the topic of my departure till my last day at home.

We were working on a history project. Luther had thought we could compare mortality rates with urban cleanliness: the Poo Project. It had sounded more interesting before astronaut boot camp dangled so sparkly and enchanting in my periphery.

Luther shut his notebook. I guess I’ll go home.

Hey—we can chat during my free hours, Sundays and Wednesdays at ten. Cell phones weren’t allowed at astronaut boot camp, and Luther despised talking on the phone anyway, so my only option would be chatting online in the computer lab.

Okay, so good-bye, I guess, he said.

He reached out, and I thought he wanted to give me a hug, so I leaned in. It was only when I glimpsed the surprise in his eyes that I realized he’d probably been about to pat my shoulder or something. But stopping a hug almost enacted would be like trying to stop a jump when your feet were already in the air.

So I leaned in the last ten percent.

Take care, I mumbled against his shoulder, patting his back.

He hesitated, then his arms rose around me too. I still thought of him as the short, pudgy kid I’d met riding bikes five years ago. When had he grown taller than me? I could feel the pulse in his neck beating against my head, his heart slamming in his chest. I panicked, my entire middle from stomach to throat turning icy, and I let go.

Don’t you dare finish the Poo Project without me, I said casually.

Okay, he said.

That night I thought more about Luther than astronaut boot camp.

My parents drove me to the Salt Lake City airport early the next morning. We all got sniffly sad hugging by the security line.

I was missing them even more when I had to take off Ms. Pincher (as we called my prosthetic arm) to put it through the X-ray machine. A little boy behind me howled with fright.

I knew I was too old to be so attached to my parents. But as the plane took off, I imagined there was a string connecting my heart to theirs that stretched and stretched. I used my rough beverage napkin to blow my nose and kept my face turned toward the window. I was in the false blue sky.

In Texas, a shuttle took me from the airport far beyond the city. Howell Aeronautics Lab was completely walled in, guard turrets at each corner. Why did it look more like a military compound than a tech company? Inside the walls, the clean, white buildings resembled a hospital. A creepy hospital in the middle of nowhere.

For the first time, I wondered if this was an enormous mistake.

In Girls Dorm B, my dorm mates were changing into the jumpsuits we got at registration, bras in pink and white flashing around the room. I undressed in a bathroom stall. The jumpsuit had Velcro. I sighed relief.

I looked pale in the mirror. Just what would this girl in the orange jumpsuit do?

I was entering the auditorium for the introductory session when I heard a redheaded boy whisper, Man, did you see her arm?

The jumpsuits had short sleeves. My arm was swollen from the airplane ride, so I hadn’t put Ms. Pincher back on. I had some regrets.

The redhead repeated the question before the dark-haired guy beside him asked, What about her arm?

"It’s gone."

Then the answer is obvious—no, I didn’t see her arm.

Look at her, Wilder. She’s missing half her arm, man.

The dark one looked back at me, his eyes flicking from my naked stump to my eyes. He smiled and said, Cool.

Cool? Was that offensive or kind?

He wore a braided leather wristband, sturdy flip-flops, and appeared to be comfortable even in an orange jumpsuit. I wanted more information.

After the session, he looked like he might be a while chatting with some blond girls, so I picked up his folder from his chair.

NAME: Jonathan Ingalls Wilder

ADDRESS: 21 Longhurt Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

FATHER: George Theodore Wilder

OCCUPATION: President, Wilder Enterprises

MOTHER: Alena Gusyeva-Wilder

OCCUPATION: Philanthropist

He cleared his throat dramatically. I noticed that the blondes were gone.

Just getting to know you, I said, flipping to the next page.

‘Hello, what’s your name?’ is customary. He had an interesting voice, kind of gravelly.

Does philanthropist count as an occupation? Oh— I said as I realized. You’re rich. He wasn’t one of the sweepstakes winners. His parents could afford this place.

He sighed melodramatically. Poor me, burdened with billions, shackled to my father’s shadow.

The room was empty but for us, everyone else headed for dinner.

"Jonathan Ingalls Wilder?"

"My mom read the Little House on the Prairie books in Russian when she was a kid. I think she married my dad for his last name." He grabbed my folder and started to read. His eyebrows went up.

Yes, that’s my real middle name, I said preemptively.

Maisie Danger Brown. What’s the story there?

I sighed. My parents were going to name me after my deceased grandmothers—Maisie Amalia—then in the hospital, it occurred to them that the middle name Danger would be funny.

So you can literally say, Danger is my middle—

"No! I mean, I avoid it. It’s too ridiculous. It’s not like anyone actually calls me Danger. Well, my mom sometimes calls me la Peligrosa, which is Spanish for Danger Girl. But it’s just a joke, or it’s meant to be. My parents have to work really hard to be funny. They’re scientists."

Father, Dr. Nicholas Brown, microbiologist, he said, reading from my info sheet. Mother, Dr. Inocencia Rodriguez-Brown, physicist. Researchers?

Dad is. Mom works from home editing a physics journal and homeschooling me.

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

I blinked. No one talks like that. But he was so casual about it, so self-assured, as if he owned the world. And for all I knew, maybe he did.

We walked toward the cafeteria, reading.

Your elective is … I searched his class schedule. Short-field soccer.

You almost managed to keep a judging tone out of your voice.

Why would you come to astronaut boot camp to play soccer?

Because I’m unbelievably good at it. And yours is … advanced aerospace engineering?

I’m not wasting my time here. I’m in training.

Wilder! The redheaded boy came charging from the cafeteria. His name tag read FOWLER, and I wondered if it was vogue for all rich boys to go by their last names. Hey, I saved you a seat at our table.

In a sec, said Wilder. It’s not every day I meet a future astronaut.

Who? Her?

Wilder nodded, his attention returning to my papers.

Are you delusional? Fowler asked me. "You have one hand."

Then I guess I’ll be the first one-handed freak in space.

Whatever. He turned back to Wilder. So, if you want to join us …

Wilder started into the cafeteria, still reading, and Fowler followed.

Hey, you’ll need this back. I held out his folder, but he shook his head.

Yours is more interesting.

That was probably true. Wilder’s papers had the barest info. He hadn’t filled out the survey or included a personal essay, and his academic records only showed he’d attended five schools in the past three years. I wondered what he was hiding.

Chapter 3

The folder switch forced me to track down Wilder at breakfast and ask him where I was supposed to be first hour.

He looked at me leisurely before opening my folder. Astrophysics in 2-C. That sounds like a party in a jar.

It did. If a party in a jar was a good thing. Would setting a party inside a glass container make it more amusing? Or was he being sarcastic?

And you have navigation in 4-F, I said, though he didn’t ask.

I can’t just follow you to astrophysics? Sit in the back, pass you notes, sketch your profile on my desk?

I was sure he was kidding. Almost sure. I should have done some homeschool projects on Teenage Social Life or Boys in General.

Wilder did not follow me to astrophysics. I looked around a few times, just to be sure.

For second hour everyone migrated to the auditorium again. The crowd hushed when a short white woman with frizzy hair clomped onto the stage. She was wearing a floral dress that was a little too big and a pair of heavy, wide sandals.

I’m Dr. Bonnie Howell, she said, her hair bobbing, her skirt swishing.

I started to clap, getting in three awkward slaps of my hand against my thigh before I realized no one else was clapping. I sunk lower in my seat. Maybe they didn’t realize that this was the Bonnie Howell, as in Howell Aerospace.

I hope you weren’t expecting kiddie camp, she said. I don’t employ veteran astronauts and the top minds in science so you can eat marshmallows and sing songs. Did you know, she bounced on the balls of her feet, your teenage brain is a work in progress? If you want big, beefy brains as adults, you must learn to organize your thoughts, control your impulses, and explore abstract concepts while you’re still a teenager. Challenge yourselves, for pity’s sake! By adulthood, any neglected areas in your brain will shut down. So sit back and stick to what you know, and you’ll be condemned to being flimsy, pathetic little piñatas, frozen in form with no hope of establishing the connections you ignored as teenagers. Okay?

And she left the stage.

If Luther had been there, I would have whispered to him, I give her an A for Brain Trivia, B for Bounciness, and D for Closure.

A large black man in a suit took the podium. Well, he stood behind the podium—but he did look capable of actually picking it up if he wanted.

I’m Dr. Dragon Barnes, Howell Aerospace Chief of Operations.

His name was Dragon? That was almost as embarrassing as Danger.

In addition to your classes each day, you will meet in groups of four we call fireteams. Your fireteam will complete timed and graded missions. The fireteam with the best cumulative score will win an exciting opportunity. His voice was leaden. I doubted he knew what exciting meant. The last week of your stay, Dr. Howell and I are flying to the ocean platform that is the planet-side base for the Beanstalk. Usually only the Howell Aeronautics crew is permitted aboard the base. But this time—

Dr. Howell suddenly ran back onto the stage and yelled into the microphone, Some of you will get to come and watch!

Everyone winced at the shriek of feedback from the speakers. Silence followed. I didn’t seem to be the only one unsure of what she meant. Dragon nudged her aside—I was already calling him by his first name in my head. It was just too memorable.

To clarify, he said, the members of the winning fireteam will visit the Beanstalk’s base and observe the space elevator ascend. From sea level. The Beanstalk doesn’t take tourists.

There were a few moans of disappointment.

Nevertheless, you will tour a site few have set foot on. Recently the president of the United States requested a visit, and she was refused. Dragon glanced sideways at Dr. Howell, his mouth stern. "Ahem. Know that this is a great privilege."

He didn’t have to tell me. I hadn’t taken a breath in at least sixty seconds.

Dr. Howell nodded vigorously, her frizz bouncing. So work hard, my little hamsters. We will be watching!

She bobbed off the stage. Dragon added a quick thank you before hurrying after her.

The head counselors got onstage and assigned us to our fireteams. Wilder’s name was not read next to mine.

I found my assigned meeting spot by a fountain in the blazing-hot courtyard, my thoughts dancing up a Beanstalk cable into space.

A skinny Asian girl sat cross-legged on the lip of the fountain, drinking a blue slushie she must have carried out of the cafeteria. She introduced herself as Mi-sun. Her name sounded Korean, but her accent was fully American.

So is this all weird or fun? she asked.

Both, I think, I said.

She nodded sagely and slurped her drink.

An older girl with loads of curly red hair approached but wouldn’t sit or make eye contact. Just as a boy joined us, a counselor with a megaphone told all the groups, You have five minutes to get to know your fireteam members. Go.

Okay, I’ll go first, said the boy. He had a short, tight Afro and black geek-chic glasses, and when he talked, dimples pressed into his cheeks. In less than a minute we learned:

1. His name was Jacques.

2. He grew up in Paris with his African-French father and American mother. When his parents divorced, he moved with his mom to the Chicago area.

3. He was an Illinois state chess champ for three years, and he spent a week on Junior Jeopardy.

4. He was a Blueberry Bonanza sweepstakes winner.

"I filled out that bleeping survey, he said. Marketing surveys are always digging for something, and I bleepity-bleep gave it to them."

If you can’t tell, I changed some of his words. My mom only swore in Spanish. My dad’s worst insult was chump. Luther’s expletives included Balefire! and Frak! So I was a bit sheltered from R-rated language, and Jacques unnerved me. I tried not to show it.

The redhead went next. She had a curvy body and was super tall if she stood straight, but her shoulders rounded, hiding her chest. I’m Ruth. I’m from Louisiana. I’m a sweepstaker too, and I hate the heat. She threw her long hair over one shoulder.

After Ruth’s hasty intro, I worried I’d sound needy if I said too much. I’m Maisie, I’m from Salt Lake City, and I … uh, I like cheese. I angled my body away from them, Ms. Pincher behind me.

Mi-sun was more forthcoming about living in Alaska, her two little brothers whom she missed so, so much, and her crafty hobbies. Mi-sun was a sweepstakes winner too, even though she was only eleven.

But the contest was for ages twelve to eighteen, I said.

I filled out the survey, and they called me and told me I’d won. Her lips were stained blue from her slushie, and with her dark hair and pale skin, she looked undead.

A counselor fetched our fireteam for our first mission, gesturing us into a small outbuilding and shutting the door behind us.

We were in a bare white room, darkly lit. We waited. Was something supposed to happen?

Cry havoc! Jacques said suddenly, making me jump.

What? said Ruth.

He folded his arms. It’s my battle cry.

A man’s voice spoke from a hidden speaker. Do not share details of this exercise with anyone outside your fireteam. Your ability to keep a secret will be considered in your final score.

Metal doors rolled down each wall, encaging us with a loud screech and a clang. Mi-sun cried out. My body buzzed with adrenaline.

The man’s voice said, "Get out of the room."

I tried to lift the metal doors. They were locked down.

Could we reach that? Mi-sun asked, looking up.

There was a hatch in the ceiling. Ruth was the tallest, so Mi-sun climbed on her shoulders. Not tall enough.

Hey, check this out! I said. The tiles on the floor were a little loose. I could unsnap them and pull them free.

Jacques turned a tile over in his hands. Look at these notches. They’re building blocks.

The girls started pulling up tiles as fast as we could and clicking them into boxes while Jacques figured out the best configuration to stack them. The process seemed to take forever. I kept glancing at the walls, sure they were closing in.

Finally we’d built a narrow staircase. As soon as we climbed up through the hatch and onto a ledge above a private courtyard, the man’s voice said, "Find the treasure."

A zip line, coded map, and buried chest of chocolate coins later, a buzzer went off.

A gate opened, and Bonnie Howell stepped in. She looked us over. Well, you just set an astronaut boot camp record.

A rush of elation shot up through me, hitting my throat and strangely making me want to cry.

Jacques and Mi-sun high-fived. Ruth was beside me—tall, beautiful, so fearsome seeming. I held up my left hand.

Yes, Ruth! Record time!

Don’t spaz. You’ll hurt yourself worse. She looked at where my right hand wasn’t and shuddered.

Unsure what I had next hour, I made my way toward Wilder’s class, noticing for the first time just how many security cameras spied from the ceiling.

The zip line adventure had irritated my arm, so Ms. Pincher was in my bag. A couple of boys bumped into me, and when they noticed my arm, one jumped back.

Gross, her meat stump touched me! he said, wiping off the sludge of my touch.

Ruth’s reaction already had me on edge, I guess, because instead of pretending I hadn’t heard, I waggled my bare arm at the boys and shouted WAAAH! like I was some fearsome, spell-casting hag. Foul creatures of the night! WAAH, I SAY!

They ran away. I kid you not—ran, as if I were the chainsaw guy at the end of a haunted house.

Wilder was coming down the hall, and he smiled at me, appreciative, as though we’d been in on the joke together. As though we were the only two sane people amid this rabble.

He has intelligent eyes, I noticed.

And all afternoon I kept on noticing.

That night at lights out, I got my mini flashlight and read through his folder again. When his

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  • (4/5)
    Maisie Danger Brown dreams of going to space camp, but she knows her parents could never afford it. When she wins a contest she read about on the back of a cereal box, she is ecstatic -- she'll get to study advanced physics and quantum mechanics, and learn about space from the creators of the Beanstalk, the world's first and only space elevator. At space camp, she's grouped with three other campers into a "fireteam" who complete challenges together. It's a camper outside her fireteam who most intrigues her, though: Jonathan Wilder, a rich young playboy who becomes Maisie's space camp romance. When Maisie's fireteam wins all of their challenges, they are taken on a special trip to see the base of the Beanstalk. Jonathan, as best performing individual camper, is also invited. And it's at the Beanstalk where things start to go in directions Maisie could never have anticipated. Bonnie Howell, the Beanstalk's eccentric creator, allows the campers into the space elevator and then takes them on a joyride up into space, where she allows them to explore the docking station and even handle some mysterious, possibly alien technology mined from an asteroid that traveled into Earth's orbit. When the alien tech reacts unexpectedly with the five teens, they are bound together for a purpose they could never have anticipated: they must save Earth from a coming alien attack.This book has plenty of action and, yes, danger (Maisie's middle name is a source of much hilarity), and even some romance, though nothing readers on the young end of the YA spectrum won't be able to handle. I enjoyed the read, but it fell short on a few points. The characterization of some of the adults really didn't work, for me -- they made some decisions that just didn't make sense. There were a few weak spots in the worldbuilding, too, that could have used a little more clarification. I think young teens going into this book without a lot of expectations will really love it, but more experienced readers, especially those who have read a lot of sci-fi, will find this book lacking in some ways.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    Dangerous by Shannon Hale is a page-turning science fiction adventure.Maisie Danger Brown receives a scholarship to a space camp. She has wanted to be an astronaut since she was small, but she was also born without a right hand. Does this even matter? Excited, Maisie goes to camp and is part of a team who wins many competitions. As the winners, she and her teammates travel to visit an elevator that goes from the equator to an orbiting astroid in space. They end up actually riding the elevator. Did they get parental permission? Not exactly. While in space, she begins her journey. Wow! I would love to say more about her journey, but it would give the surprises away. Needless to say, you will be guessing as to who can be trusted as Maisie is burdened with literally saving the entire planet. I read this novel in one day and it was a fun reading experience! It's imaginative and exciting!
  • (3/5)
    Maisie "Danger" Brown was born without a right hand, and is thrilled when she wins a scholarship to attend astronaut camp, run by a private entity. When she and her friends accidentally are infected by what appears to be an alien technology, their lives are in danger from a variety of sources.
  • (4/5)
    it had aliens, body invasion, lots of betrayal, teamwork, world saving, cool names, super powers, murder, tragedy, and love. the teenage angst wasn't annoying and the teenage infatuation wasn't too sappy. and i am sooooooooooooooo glad the cover is not a boy or girl cover since both would love it.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    DANGEROUS was an excellent science fiction story with touches of romance and touches of humor too. Maisie Danger Brown is a pretty normal teenager except for the fact that she was born missing her right hand. She has been home-schooled and is the child of two scientists. Her mother is Paraguayan which makes Maisie fluent in both English and Spanish. Her dad is most known for his really bad puns. Maisie has always wanted to be an astronaut. When the chance comes to enter a contest to win time at space camp, Maisie is all over it. Her home-schooled, isolated life is starting to be a tight fit for her. She wants to see more of the world. To her surprise, she is selected for the space camp where she meets a number of fellow campers including Jonathan Ingalls Wilder who is the son of one of the world's richest and most ruthless men. They form a relationship that confuses Maisie. He gives her her first kiss and then also ignores her. He is really manipulative. The camp is run by eccentric genius Dr. Bonnie Howell who is the founder of Howell Aerospace and the inventor of the "beanstalk" that helps humans get into space. It turns out that Howell has a plan and needs a group of teenagers to accomplish it. Maisie, Wilder, Mi-Sun, Jacques, and Ruth form a team that wins the challenges and gets to visit the beanstalk. They even get a quick trip into space where Howell shows them an artifact that was found on the asteroid that is the beanstalk's anchor in space. Howell shows them the artifact which then is absorbed into their skin and causes both physical and mental changes for all the team. Wilder becomes the leader - the Thinker. Maisie becomes a technological genius. Mi-Sun develops the ability to use electrons generated by her body to turn any projectile into a weapon. Jacques develops the ability to form an armor made out of polymers created by his body. And Ruth becomes super-fast and super-strong. But everyone doesn't adjust well to their new enhancements. Ruth becomes overwhelmed by hers, has anger issues, and becomes a murderer.Meanwhile, all of them are wondering what the purpose of these alien artifacts are. They also have to deal with the fact the Wilder's dad really wants to control all of them to better his business. Maisie isn't sure that she can trust Howell either. Events show that she definitely can't trust Wilder. Maisie is left with a problem way too big for any teenage to deal with.The story was action-packed. Between threats from a ruthless businessman and an invasion by aliens who want to take over the Earth, Maisie has a lot to do and a lot of decisions to make. I loved the relationship between Maisie and her parents. I loved her best friend Luther. I hurt for her as she tried to figure out what her relationship to Wilder could and should be. Maisie was a great character who, while sheltered, wasn't naive. She was smart, focused, and well-balanced. I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to share it with my students.
  • (3/5)
    Maisie wins a cereal contest to attend astronaut camp and becomes one of a select few to travel up the 'Beanstalk' to a space station. While there, the teens are infected with alien nanotechnology that turns them into superheros. All of them turn bad, however, and only Maisie remains to save the world from an alien invasion. This book is action-packed and would be great for teens who love superhero stories; the characters all have really cool superhero powers. That said, I was disappointed with Hale's effort for this novel. I felt that the characters themselves never became more than their superpowers; even Maisie didn't feel like a real person to me. The love triangle involving Maisie is also poorly depicted. For another novel about space technology and aliens, this time with a horror film feel, try 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad.
  • (4/5)
    Though I didn't always love the characters, I absolutely couldn't stop reading. This book sucked me in and kept my attention. It would make a great movie or TV show adaptation.
  • (3/5)
    3 1/2 stars to the people who didn't finish this book because they were annoyed/upset/bewildered by the beginning- it actually gets better. There is a pretty good twist toward the end I didn't see coming. Not at all like anything she's written before do I think I would have liked it better not having expectations of what a Shannon Hale novel is like. Reminded a bit of the Alex Rider books
  • (5/5)
    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
  • (4/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    I've read other Shannon Hale books and my reactions have ranged from "pretty good" to "Nope, not going to finish this". So I went in cautiously and not at all sure I'd like it - but it was excellent. Surprisingly complex - I kept thinking I knew where it was going _now_, and it kept going off in a new direction. Maisie is a teenager, and she does lose her head over a boy...sort of. That usually annoys me, but Maisie handled it much the way I wish others would - this is wonderful but I have other concerns right now. And then it got complicated, and then much more complicated, and terrible...and better. The romance is an integral part of the story, not a side-plot or a distraction, but it's not the major or the only focus of the story (by a long shot). Funny the way the token-symbols flowed together - I wonder if the token-makers were protoplasmic and could meld? Lots of wondering left, at the end of the story. And all the strange tech more or less dealt with - not much changing in the world (rather to Howell and GT's dismay). Poor Dragon - wish we could have seen more of him. But I definitely want to read more of Maisie. And the handling of her disability, and other "differences", was beautiful - they were facets of her, but not the point. The fact that she had only one arm was important to the story at several points - but she was not "the girl with one arm", she was much more than that. I had seen some of Shannon's discussions of her "half-Latina, home-schooled, one-armed, female protagonist" and how Shannon had worried she'd be too far out for people to accept as the hero of the book - but that's not at all how she appeared in the book, she was Maisie (who had all those aspects, and a good many more). I'd forgotten about the discussions until I read the reviews here, actually. Excellent, and I'm looking forward to the next book.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    I was so excited to read this. Shannon Hale is the best, and now she writes a scifi novel? What could be better?Well, a lot of things.There were lots of parts I enjoyed. I do love Maisie, and the other characters aren't so bad either. The plot is interesting and action-packed and you've got the steamy romance and a love triangle that isn't freaking obnoxious, which is always a bonus.But... it just... was difficult to get through. Everything seemed to happen either way too fast or way too slow. SO MUCH HAPPENED in just 400 pages, and it bothered me. The first half of the book is completely different than the second half, and I think it might've worked better if it had been more fleshed out over a few different installations.But still, it was good. It was edgy and tragic and sweet and all those great things. But it took me so freaking long to get through because the pacing was just weird. It's weird that the pacing alone can make such an impact on how enjoyable the book is, but it's true. I really wish it had been better paced, because then it would've been awesome.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Thanks to Netgalley.com and Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for allowing me access to this.

    4.5 stars. I went into this completely blind. I had no idea what to expect. This is NOTHING like her other books, and yet the writing and story are still just as amazing. I thought the little jokes the father told were pretty funny and helped show the positive relationship she had with her parents. I could have done with a little less of the teenager-y angst, "he loves me, he hates me" stuff, but it mostly came together for me and worked in the end. And it was nice to have a love triangle appear and get squashed just as quickly. It gets really old when they drag out, and sometimes friends are just never more than friends.

    Overall, I think fans of Hale's other works will enjoy this one. I would also recommend it for fans of Pittacus Lore as it has a similar feel.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (4/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    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.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (2/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Contrary to what I rated Dangerous, with 2 stars, for the right reader I think it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

    The points that I believe might have helped find the right readers:

    - If the book description for Dangerous were more forthcoming about the content, theme and or plot line of what it actually was about! - Then it would have been better able to appeal to the right readers.
    - My opinion on the target audience for this book would be tweens, not teens, because originally I had thought this book was supposed to be young adult and yet it felt more like some of the outrageous adventure plot lines I normally see in middlegrade fiction. In addition to the fact that the kids are actually around 14 or less, go to space camp, then end up with crazy super hero like powers (with a sci-fi twist). Albeit there is more violence and death in Dangerous then I've normally seen in other middle grade books, I still think that is where this book belongs and should be targeted.
    - Dangerous is a mix of science fiction, comic book style super hero/villain fiction and romance. Now ask yourself folks, did you get that indication from the book description? I sure as heck didn't.

    Things that didn't work for me:

    - The adults. Some of their actions, dialogue and overall behavior was just ridiculous. I can not realistically see some of these things going down. Immediately things like that would pull me out of the story.
    - Super smart children I can absolutely believe as there are definite prodigy kids out there. But their personalities coupled with the plot line just didn't mesh well. It would have been better for me if either one or the other were toned down.
    - The bad jokes and puns. They were cute for awhile, but the further I along I read the more tiresome I found them.

    Ultimately, I don't think Dangerous was a bad book I just thing it was the wrong book for me. Almost half of what I read is young adult fiction and the other half is adult, then maybe a very few middle grade books each year. This particular one I likely wouldn't have picked up if I'd had a more accurate idea of what was in store for me.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)
    This is a book marketed as YA that seemed more Middle Grade or Tween to me. The protagonist is a young girl named Maisie Danger Brown who has always wanted to be an astronaut in spite of having only one hand because of a congenital disorder. That would never stop Maisie, however, and she enters and wins a contest to attend Howell Astronaut Boot Camp created by billionaire Bonnie Howell “to ignite the love of science in the teenage mind.”At the camp, Maisie brushes off cruel remarks about her hand, meets a cute boy, and gets her first kiss. All that is great. But the deal breaker for me is the part about the adults who are running the camp. They are not only absurdly eccentric (fine perhaps for being scientists but not for running a big successful business) but also they inexplicably and amazingly allow Maisie and five of her camp mates to handle some secret alien artifacts, about which they claim to know nothing. The objects invade the bodies of the kids, endowing them with superpowers (but of course, could have infected them lethally instead). Holy X-Teens! Where is the Hazmat Team? More importantly, where are the lawyers?Evaluation: The premise of this book is just too absurd in too many parts for me to carry on reading. The adults are stupid in ways often common in Middle Grade books, but not really believable once you get past that level. It hurts to feel let down by Shannon Hale, although she doesn’t disappoint in terms of providing yet another plucky, admirable female heroine. It’s possible the story gets better, but I couldn’t get past the ridiculous, almost campy [pun intended] set-up. Note: Speaking of puns, this book has some great ones. Maisie’s father is a punster (hence Maisie being named so that she could say “Danger is my middle name….”), and I wished we readers could spend more time with him . . . .
  • (3/5)
    Review courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: This novel was enjoyable and fun, but nothing I would reread.Opening Sentence: The warehouse was coffin dark.The Review:Dangerous by Shannon Hale is the story of Maisie, a girl born without her arm, who is homeschooled and dreams of being an astronaut. Maisie knows the odds of getting her dream job are not in her favor, but something compels her to fill out a form on a website that advertises the chance to win a scholarship to Astronaut Boot Camp. It has the professional technology, and the billionaire who owns it also owns the world-famous space elevator, that goes directly from Earth onto a comet that revolves around the planet in space. But soon Maisie realizes that not all is right in the camp, and with her new (boyfriend?) Wilder, she must set out on an adventure with aliens, a plague, love, adventure, and Maisie Danger Brown is the only chance of saving the world.Before starting this book, I was pretty psyched. After all, I’ve read Princess Academy and that book was my childhood. I didn’t feel the same sparkle from Dangerous. There were certainly some positive things about it, but honestly, there was a lack of the same feeling that compelled me to love Princess Academy. Maisie was a good character, and her emotions were described with an eloquent rawness. Wilder confused me, quite bluntly. His feelings seemed to turn off and on at the push of a button, and I look for a consistency in the love interests that Wilder didn’t have. A minor character, Dragon, was actually my favorite.The whole plotline was set out well, but the pacing just irritated me. For the most part it was okay, but sometimes when you were reading something important to the story for the first time, it went too fast. Often it would be clarified in the next chapter, but not all of the time. And the description of physical surroundings — very, very brief. I really like to get a feel for where the character is and form a picture in my head, but Hale’s description is so lacking it was hard to do that sometimes. Especially when they were in space, you’d think you’d hear more about it. Yes, what it looked like was written down for you, but it didn’t connect with the characters emotions as it should of (considering it’s been her dream all along) making the setting seem kind of flat.But not everything was disappointing. The ending was very strong and exceeded my expectations, and the main character had a unique personality. Hale’s style of writing was very to the point, but sometimes it worked with the novel very well. And the book as a whole was enjoyable, only getting boring in a few instances.Dangerous by Shannon Hale is bursting with mystery, betrayal, love, and tragedy. It’s a great novel for science fiction lovers and fans of other space themed novels. Check it out when you can, you will enjoy it even if you don’t love it!Notable Scene:We could see lights down the highway.“The good guys will take over from here,” said Wilder.“Wait…” the woman propped herself up on her elbows. “Who are you kids?”Wilder turned back, his helmet under his arm, his figure dark and dramaticd against the piercing headlight.“We’re the Fireteam.”FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury USA Children’s provided me with a copy of Dangerous. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
  • (2/5)
    ILet me begin by saying that I love Shannon Hale's work. _Goose Girl_ and _Book of a Thousand Days_ are particular favorites of mine, and I've also enjoyed the _Princess Academy_ books. Hale has an instinctive sense of what aspects of an older tale are still going to resonate with contemporary readers, and she draws on those aspects to create three-dimensional characters and situations that evoke both times gone by as well as timeless emotions and conflicts. So, I was eager to read _Dangerous_, which is set in the present, and which features a typically Shannon-Hale-esque protagonist: a smart, sensitive, witty young woman who's in the process of discovering the depth of her own strength.In this case, that girl is Maisie Danger Brown (yep, that's her real middle name), the daughter of a microbiologist father and a physicist mother. With that kind of pedigree, it's no wonder Maisie gets excited when she sees a contest to win a spot at billionaire Bonnie Howell's "astronaut boot camp" on the back on a cereal box. One small problem: Maisie was born with only one hand, and though she has a prosthesis and is a homeschooled genius, she's pretty sure she won't be allowed to go, even if she wins.But she does win, and she does go, and from that point on, the plot accelerates like a rocket ship.At the camp, Maisie meets several other kids who become part of her "fire team": the groups campers are put in to solve various problems in simulated environments. Maisie's team performs so well that they're selected to go up to Howell's space lab--but once they've arrived, the kids' bodies are overtaken by alien "tokens" that give them various superpowers.At this point, _Dangerous_ shifts into dystopian mode: the kids discover they're being used by competing forces, they attempt to escape, they struggle to figure out who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are, and they eventually agree to lead the battle against the alien beings responsible for a mysterious world-wide pandemic dubbed the "Jumper Virus."It's hard not to read this story as pretty derivative of other popular YA books and films in recent years: it's part _Hunger Games_, part _X-Men_, part _Uglies_…you get the idea. I don't have a problem with that, really, since that's kind of a reading sweet spot these days, and I'm all for giving kids more of what they like to read.What bothered me as the story went along, though, were issues of pacing and tone. At times, big stretches of time would pass and we'd just get a brief summary of what happened, while other bits get drawn out too long. I'm thinking in particular of the romance between Maisie and fellow space camper Jonathan. Again, it's kind of a standard trope of dystopian YA lit these days that you have to have a forbidden/dangerous romance thrown into the mix, and that the male character has to be ambiguous: can our heroine trust him or not? Will he kill her or kiss her? At least in the first _Hunger Games_ book, the budding romance between Katniss and Peeta didn't develop until they were hidden away in the relative safety of their cave; here, Maisie will stop virtually mid-battle-to-save-the-planet to wonder what Jonathan really thinks of her, or to moon over a recent make out session. That kind of thing not only undermines her strength, but seems even more unrealistic than the most fantastic elements of the plot! And that's related to my issues with the tone: Maisie often delivers completely wack one-liners out of nowhere. They're intended to be funny (and sometimes they are), but more often than not they're disruptive, taking the reader out of the flow of the story to wonder, "Wait--what's going on here?" For example, at one point, Maisie and Jonathan are spying on the arch-villain who seems to be trying to kill them, and Jonathan starts biting her neck (what? bad timing, dude) and then calls her "brutal"…which leads to this exchange: Maisie: "'You wanna see brutal?' I leaned over and picked up a steel dumpster. Jonathan: "If that's an attempt to turn me off, it's having exactly the opposite effect."That's actually one of the wittier non sequiturs, but others are just annoying. Once Maisie and crew enter into direct battle with the aliens, though, things pick up, and I found the last hundred pages or so much more fluid and readable. And also a lot creepier: the description of the adult aliens silently swinging on park swings in a town that's been infected by the alleged virus is seriously disturbing. And Hale's ending also avoids the pitfalls of so many dystopian-YA lit these days: it actually ends with order more or less restored, and the kids able to return to some kind of normal life. And best of all, this appears to be a standalone novel: no dragging this story out over two more increasingly dissatisfying sequels.So, I'm kind of on the fence about this one. It's definitely NOT the first Shannon Hale book I'd mention to someone who asked me for book recommendations. And I'm not even sure it'd be among those of this genre that I'd recommend. But then, I'm not the target audience here--I'm a grownup, and one who likes fairy tales, not one who likes superhero stories or science fiction. Maybe I missed the point…but sorry, Maisie: you may have had your friend Luther "at extraterrestrial nanorobots," but you'd lost me long before that.I read this as an e-ARC I received from Bloomsbury via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    Let me start by saying I'm not a Shannon Hale fan. I read and didn't like Austenland , I read The Princess Academy and The Goose Girl and only mildly liked them. So when I saw this one, I thought I would give it a try because I'm not really fond of princess-y books, so maybe this one would be more up my alley. It definitely was. So probably the intense Shannon Hale fans will like it less :). While there were definite flaws in the story - it starts out so quickly that it is hard to form relationships with Luther and with Maisie's parents because they were suddenly gone and we moved on to the next part of the book - I really enjoyed it once we got to the tokens. So here's how it fanned out for me: First part was kind of blah, after the tokens came into force I thought it was really exciting and good, then the whole alien thing came into force and I thought it was a little weird. However, on the whole I quite enjoyed the book. I really liked the characters, especially Maisie Danger Brown, and I appreciated that she had a really good relationship with her parents, although several of the other characters had lousy ones.Areas of concern: There is quite a bit of kissing, a couple find themselves staying in a one room apartment sharing the same mattress on the floor. Nothing happens beyond kissing, although it is discussed and the male character assures the girl he has "protection". One of the male characters is a real player and hook-ups are mentioned. Quite a bit of violence - several key characters are killed by other key characters, and there is a lot of bloodshed and tension about loved ones.No bad language, although one character cusses alot, but the author uses bleepity-bleeps saying that the main character doesn't like the language. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book