Monday, August 11, 2008

books

59. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
This is another Young Adult novel by James Patterson. You may remember that about a year ago I read another YA book by Patterson, Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. I liked Daniel X more than the other book as it was much more well-written. This book is basically the story of Daniel X, a 15 year old boy who goes around hunting dangerous aliens living here on earth. Like I mentioned in my review of Maximum Ride, though, there were a lot of pop-culture references that bothered me. I am really wary of this in books, as I think it is unlikely that in 10 or even 5 years a reader will know who Shia LeBouef is. I just think references like that become dated quickly, and stick out like a sore thumb.

Anyway, back to the book. A lot of the promotional stuff for this book talks about how boys read less than girls, and boys don't read because they find it "too boring". Patterson states that the purpose of this series is to get boys interested in reading and to this end the book is action-packed and has short chapters. That is all true. The book is very action packed, the main character is really likable and the story moves fast. I didn't particularly notice the short chapters, but as I mostly grab my reading time now in short spurts, I do love a short chapter. The book itself is fun and worth a read for anyone.

That all said, there were two things that troubled me here. The first issue has to do with the book itself and don't worry, it's on the back so it is not a spoiler. Daniel's parents are killed very early in a very violent way and this made me uncomfortable. I know Daniel needed to be alone in order for the story to work, but I think the violence of it went overboard. Also, Daniel says it bothers him, of course, but I never feel that emotion. Maybe this will come out more in later books, but I felt the trauma of the parents' death was alluded to and mentioned, but never dealt with.

My second issue has to do with the boys don't read because books are boring message put out by the promotional stuff. I think it is a good thing that Patterson wants to interest boys in reading. However I am not sure the boringness of books is really the problem. I feel like there are plenty of action oriented books out there. Also I did an informal poll of my male friends who read to see if they had read as kids, and if the boringness or not of books was a factor. All my male friends read as kids, but they felt like they learned to appreciate reading from their families. That is, reading was valued by their parents and/or siblings and so they did it too. This book might get a few non-readers to try reading, but I am not sure it will solve the problem on its own. It seems to me like a band-aid for a deeper issue.

Anyway, that is my thoughts on that. Go ahead and read this book for a fun read with aliens and alien-hunting. I think any young adult aged reader would probably enjoy this book, boy or girl. But I don't think it is suddenly going to start all (or many, or most) male non-readers reading.

This is a MotherTalk sponsored review (that means I got a free copy of the book).

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