Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blog Review: Dangerous Days of Daniel X (Finally)

I am not quite certain why, but this is the first time I have been able to access my blog since, well, my last post. So, I first must send my apologies to MotherTalk because they asked me to review this book back on September 11. I had everything read, written, and ready. Luckily, I have not missed the entire tour...just my scheduled day.

On to the book!

I have been drawn in repeatedly to James Patterson's books aimed at adults. Titles like Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, and First to Die have had their moments on my bedside table. And each of those books has left me satisfied and anxious to see the next in the series. If you recall, however, I wasn't as happy with my first introduction to one of Patterson's books aimed at a younger audience. My main complaint with Maximum Ride III, besides a strong dislike for the main character's name, was the lack of detail to draw me into the story. The plot was an interesting concept. The story unfolded well. But I was left wanting a lot more because there was a considerable lack of detail.

Unfortunately, I was left with a similar impression after reading the The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. I loved the idea behind the story. In a nutshell (as so as not to spoil the book for potential readers), Daniel X is an alien hunter. As the book opens, his parents are killed by an alien, yet he survives (very Harry Potter-esque, no?). The book then jumps ahead to his life as a teen and some of his wondrous special abilities, like being able to recreate his entire family from nothing (an illusion but, as told, a terribly impressive illusion). The unfolding of the story, the underlying concepts, and even the general pace were good. But, again, I was left wanting a lot more detail. I realize that Patterson was aiming at an audience that isn't fond of reading. Perhaps kids that don't like reading hate to slog through lots of extra words in the form of plot detail. For those kids, this would be a great story told in a simple form. And, for them, it may hit the mark exactly. But I know that for me, even as a 10-year-old, I would have found the story lacking (but I also read voraciously).

One thing I wished I had been able to do with this book was share it with a 10-year-old and get his or her opinion. As I thought through the collection of families in my little circle, it dawned on me that the kids were all either way too young (five and younger) or were too old already (13+). I almost gave it to one of the 13-year-olds anyway, but she started reading the HP books in first grade, so this would probably garner a similar reaction from her.

But don't just take my word for the book. Here is a nice writeup from the New York Times. According to that piece, Patterson's heart is in the right place, so I give him credit for that. If I find a willing young reader, I do want to hear from someone in the target audience. And when that happens, I will definitely post an update to give you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of the book in exchange for writing this blog review.

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