Thursday, September 18, 2008

Review: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Summary: The greatest superpower of all isn't to be part spider, part man, or to cast magic spells -- the greatest power is the power to create.

Daniel has that power.

Daniel's secret abilities -- like being able to manipulate objects and animals with his mind or to recreate himself in any shape he chooses -- have helped him survive. But Daniel doesn't have a normal life. He is the protector of the earth, the Alien Hunter, with a mission beyond what anyone could imagine.

From the day that his parents were brutally murdered in front of his very eyes, Daniel has used his unique gifts to hunt down their assassin. Finally, with the help of The List bequeathed to him in his parents' dying breath, he has located the killer.

Now, on his own, he vows to take on his father's mission--and to have vengeance in the process. -- Little, Brown and Company

I knew when I started THE DANGEROUS DAYS OF DANIEL X by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge that this book was geared towards young boys. The Young Adult Library Services Association conducted a study that claims the #1 reason that boys don't like to read is that they simply think it's boring. James Patterson, the father of a young boy, has been saying for years that the "best ways to get people excited about reading is to give them books they're going to love." As a result, he decided to write a new series that young boys would enjoy. THE DANGEROUS DAYS OF DANIEL X is the first book in this new series.

I haven't read a lot of fiction geared towards young boys, but I was very interested in reading this book. I think I've read everything James Patterson has ever written for adults -- some good and some bad -- but overall I enjoy his writing style. Since I'm not a pre-teen boy, nor am I even the parent of one yet, I tried to read this book as if I were one of my friends' sons. Having said that, I think this book had the elements that would hold pre-teen boys' (and girls') interests; and I do think young children will love this novel. Although I have to admit that I enjoyed the story too -- it's a book for almost every age!

I found Daniel to be such a likable and honest character. I think young boys will think he is extremely cool because he gets to fight aliens; and I think girls will like Daniel because he's just such a sweet guy. I liked that the book was told in first person narrative by Daniel because it allowed the reader to really get to know and understand him. Plus, I think kids could better relate to Daniel since they could see that he even had times when he felt insecure. (Even though he was an alien, he still appeared "normal" because he shared the same fears that many pre-teens have about being alone and doing/saying the right things with the opposite sex.)

Another thing I really liked about the story was how Mr. Patterson created so many suspenseful moments. There were times that Daniel was in horrific situations, yet he was always able to use his brains (as well as his special skills) to get out. I also liked seeing how Daniel could use his imagination in so many creative ways -- from creating his family and friends to keep him company to saving himself from disgusting aliens. I especially love that this book contained a very important message to young readers -- use your talents and strengths to be the best you can be.

Another thing that the reader will enjoy is the humor that was infused throughout the story. No matter how bleak things looked for Daniel, he still maintained his sense of humor and wit (and sometimes sarcasm.) This definitely kept me laughing, and I think the use of humor will also keep things a little lighter for the younger reader. I found the descriptions of the aliens to be extremely vivid as well as entertaining; and I think young boys will especially enjoy the gross and yuck factor of the creatures.

I really think that Mr. Patterson's books lend themselves to being read by children because the chapters are so short and the books is such a quick read. I like that a child can read a little or a lot without leaving off in the middle of a chapter. I have a feeling, though, that most kids will have a hard time putting this book down. Almost every chapter ended with some sort of cliffhanger that definitely will entice the reader to keep on going!

The back of the book contained excerpts of the next two books in this series. It's very obvious that Mr. Patterson's intention is to create a huge industry around DANIEL X -- books, movies, graphic novels, video games, etc. I think most kids who read this story would be teased enough by these previews to want to read additional books about Daniel (and as parents, isn't that really the goal -- to get them reading more?)

There is a terrific website for the book that I'm sure all young children would enjoy. Readers can take a look at aliens that were made by kids all over the world, or even create their own new alien. There is also information on on the future film and graphic novels, as well as downloads for your computer. I was actually very impressed by the resources section for teachers and libraries -- there are lots of great ideas and activities that supplement the book.

If you have a reluctant reader or even a kid who loves to read, then I highly suggest giving THE DANGEROUS DAYS OF DANIEL X a try. If you want to get a better idea of the book before buying, you can read a brief excerpt here or watch an interview with Mr. Patterson here.


Cheryl said...

I have tried a few James Patterson books and they were alright. I might have to give him another try. Thanks

Anonymous said...

My 10-year-old son is almost finished with this, and he is absolutely loving it! Thanks for the link to the site, Noah is excited to go make some aliens.

Anonymous said...

Julie, I didn't know you were a James Patterson fan!

I love books with a funny, witty main character.

So, do you review for MotherTalk?

Julie P. said...


I have reviewed three books for Mothertalk so far -- MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU, A SUMMER AFFAIR and this one. They don't seem to have many opportunities, but the books they've offered are good.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Patterson is interested in getting kids reading! That's so important!

I'm a so-so Patterson fan. I used to enjoy his books, but I've seen a decline in his writing as of late. I'll probably pass on this one, but I look forward to his Women's Murder Club series!

Anonymous said...

I had a review about this a long time ago in a magazine and went to the library to get it but they didn't have it yet. Since then I had forgotten it again until I saw this post. Thanks for the reminder!