Friday, August 29, 2008

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Reading has always been a huge part of my, my mother and my sisters' lives. The three of us that keep blogs often send chick lit packages back and forth to share the love, as it were. When someone tells me that they just don't enjoy reading, I just don't' get it. What's not to love about getting swept up in the drama of someone else's life? Whether I'm engrossed in the latest from Jennifer Weiner (or my new favorite Jen Lancaster) or a great piece of non-fiction, reading has always been my favorite way to escape or just help my mind release at the end of the day.

My husband is quite possibly the most voracious reader I know. By his self-report, he always has been. He was that kid who finished all the books on the recommended reading list, and continued to find more on his own. Whether it's J with his nose in the latest medical text or a copy of Tender is the Night, or me reading my latest book club pick or a story to H, our kids will be raised in a house of books (much safer than a house of cards).

Upon hearing from MotherTalk and Mom Central about James Patterson's (in collaboration with Michael Ledwidge) latest release of a new series The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, (to purchase at click here)I was excited to see what was in store. I loved Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, but knew that this one would be different for a pretty big reason; the goal was to excite young readers...the afore-mentioned books would not so much be age-appropriate.

As the father of a ten year old boy himself, Patterson has made it a priority to write books that will engage readers of all ages, putting special emphasis on reaching out to young boys, who have been statistically shown to view reading as 'boring', thus leaving an entire category of the population less apt to read a book and allow the literary world to influence them in their development.

Daniel X is an alien hunting teen-aged boy, who is out to avenge the death of his parents. His power is unlike most super-heroes, as he relies on his imagination to give him the power to 'create'.
When I first read the jacket of the book, and learned that he'd witnessed the 'brutal murder' of his parents at the age of three, my mom-mind immediately thought This is not appropriate for kids!!! But then I took a breath and read on, a little sad that I'd become so conservative where literature is concerned. After completing the book, I can say that there is just enough shock and ewww to keep boys and girls alike interested in this book.

As a disclaimer, I need to admit that I am not a fan of science fiction; it's always been my least favorite genre. That said, Daniel X was actually a really easy read...I guess it would be pretty sad if it weren't easy for me to read, as I am a 29 year-old woman and it's aimed at the 8-13 y.0. reading level.

One of the things that I appreciated most about the book is that Patterson doesn't stoop to using only elementary language just because the book is aimed at a younger crowd. I think that this is a book for which my nephew, and many other young readers, would need to highlight words and look them up as he goes, which only serves to further open the world of language and would encourage him to broaden his reading horizons. I'll be passing this book on to the Brode-man; I'll ask his opinion and re-post when he's done, so that I have the perspective of an actual 10 year-old boy.

I think that most readers would enjoy the book, but have to say that Mr. Patterson makes one fatal error; in one scene an alien uses 'bad' early-80's music to 'torture' Daniel. How anyone can see Air Supply or Journey as anything other than a sure sign that sweet salvation is on the horizon is beyond fact, it's absolutely Foreign(er).

* For more information, see the Wickipedia entry and the publisher's site

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