Please don't count how many old "reviews" of mine say "review later", "more later", or variations thereupon. ... Actually, just ignore my blog until further notice.
Two things took Dangerous down from five stars for me:
1. The beginning
Now, maybe if I had read the first chapter a bit better, this might not have been a problem. My main pet peeve is that almost the entire Part One is just the formation of the fireteam. But Maisie says herself in the first sentence that this is a superhero origin story. I guess that didn't register with me. I thought the main focus of the book would be the astronaut boot camp, so when most of the challenges were skimmed over, I felt cheated, at least until I better understood the purpose of Part One.
Like Maisie, I'm confused about my feelings for this guy. I'm still not sure I'm satisfied that they become a couple. I felt like the situation was too messy to justify them trying a real relationship out. And, to tie this in with my first point, the choice to spend the first portion of the book developing their romance wasn't a choice I would have made. It sent the wrong message to me about what kind of book this would be. Dangerous is a superhero/sci-fi story, not a romance novel, and it got so much better when the focus went back to the sci-fi stuff.
There's something else I have to mention that, while it didn't take my rating down or up, did influence my reading experience. Then we'll get to the good stuff.
Maisie was born without a right hand. I, fun fact, was born without my left. So I was interested to see a story where a character with a similar disability to mine wasn't the villain (finally!). It's hard for me to say whether the depiction was realistic or not. It doesn't specify just how much of her hand Maisie is missing, and that can drastically alter someone's mobility. So there were some things she had a hard time with where I thought, "But I can do that!", and others where I thought, "Hang on, how is she doing this one-handed?" I'm also not sure if I just grew up around nicer people than Maisie, but I haven't encountered as much teasing as she did throughout the novel. Not trying to say this was a poor portrayal of a disabled character--I found it interesting is all. And I appreciate Shannon Hale actually trying. There was one moment where Maisie first got Fido, the robotic prosthetic arm, and said something about how it wasn't made to look normal, but to look cool, and that resonated with me. I've always avoided a prosthetic because, for my particular disability, it seems like they're more about having a "normal" appearance than serving a helpful purpose.
Jacques grew to be my favorite. I'm not sure as to why. But his death made me quite sad. I also liked most of the other characters. Wilder was confusing for me, as I've said, but I could see why Maisie was drawn to him and sometimes felt the pull myself. Howell was endearing and frightening in her oddness. I liked it whenever we got to see more of Luther and kind of rooted for him. Dragon's was another sad death--I had hoped it was him who gave Maisie the parachute.
The whole premise was creative, or at least it was to a reader who isn't familiar with much sci-fi. Shannon Hale handled the alien thing much better than most. She actually gave them *gasp* a reason behind invading? And acknowledged their differences in anatomy and biology? The concept of the tokens was cool as well. Once I got to the part where the fireteam discovers their powers, I devoured the book.
Sometimes the writing felt a bit choppy. I had to re-read passages more often than I usually do. However, the descriptions were so unique and well-crafted that, while I couldn't relate to Maisie about a lot of things, I cared about her and understood what she felt.
In fact, Maisie is just an empowering character. One-handed, half-Paraguayan, science-loving girl? Yes, please! Not to mention I love that she cuts her hair off by the end. Having recently chopped several inches of my own hair, I have a soft spot for that sort of thing.
Maisie's parents get a shout-out for not only being present throughout the story, but influencing Maisie's actions and supporting her in everything she does. That's so rare in YA.
Props to Shannon Hale for all the research she must have done. Crimuny. There's quite a bit of scientific techno-babble, and from what I gather, she talked to a lot of scientists about probable explanations for the technology. It's enjoyable. Seeing that an author cared enough about a story to learn more about science instead of just writing whatever she pleased with no thought of reality... I appreciate it.
The more I think about Dangerous, the more I like it. Despite my ramblings about points 1 and 2 at the beginning, there was so much I loved or enjoyed. I want to own this one eventually. Maybe I'll bump it up to four stars if the feeling sticks.