Monday, August 18, 2008
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X - A MotherTalk Review
The "reluctant reader" is a term we've been reading and hearing about a lot lately, usually referring to boys who just can't seem to get hooked on reading. Part of the solution is providing reluctant readers with books they actually want to read, rather than books we think they should be reading. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is James Patterson's (and his co-author Michael Ledwidge) contribution to this concept of adolescent literature (although the jacket cover reads "James Patterson has written this story for readers from ten to a hundred and ten.").
When I first received a complementary copy of this book from MotherTalk, I was a little bit surprised at the cover of the book - red and black tones with an image of a solar eclipse on the front - it seemed more fitting for adult Clancy fans than for tween and teen boys. I can tell you that even as a brand spankin' new library media specialist, I know that kids do judge a book by its cover and I'm not so sure how much this one would appeal to them.
Moving from the exterior to the interior, we find the protagonist Daniel X, orphaned as a toddler, dedicated to avenging the death of his parents by taking on a number of gruesome aliens. My gut reaction to this book is that it seemed more of an outline than a finished product. It seemed sparse in places and I really did not feel attached to Daniel or particularly inspired by his mission. The nods to popular culture (PlayStation3s and Gladiator) are cute, but will become dated rather quickly. This book was a very quick read for me;I did appreciate the short chapters (often just two pages or so) and I think this will appeal to readers who get a little boost from completing smaller chunks of text rather than a feeling of slogging through long chapters.
I couldn't help but think that books such as Harry Potter and the soaring popularity of graphic novels such as American Born Chinese have shown us that reluctant readers are also drawn to complex tales with well developed characters, but I suppose even adults enjoy the occasional light fare and not all books for teens and tweens need to result in a bout of soul-searching. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X may accomplish exactly what James Patterson intended and inspire readers to read other books with similar but more richly fleshed out themes such as Sabriel or Feed.