My eight-year-old is an avid reader. He devours books quicker than we can loop back around to the library. And thank goodness for the library, or we’d be living in a cardboard box somewhere to support his reading habit! It’s a good problem to have, so don’t hear me complaining. So when MotherTalk was looking for book reviewers for a new book by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge called, The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, I’ll admit I selfishly signed up just to have another book for my child .
I was a little nervous when the book arrived - the back cover read, “They killed my mother and father - and I will hunt them to the ends of the earth.” Not quite your garden variety “Magic Tree House” adventure series . . . Mmmmmm. I figured I was going to just have to read this to myself and let the eight-year-old wait until his 21st birthday to take this one off the shelf.
Instead, I began reading it aloud to him with the stipulation that I might have to stop sharing it with him at any moment that it became inappropriate. He warily agreed, curious to step into the pages of this seemingly “inappropria te” book!
This adventure/science fiction story is told by Daniel X himself. The first-person dialogue pulls readers in from Daniel’s introducing himself as an alien hunter. Even more of a connection is made when his parents die (no spoiler - remember the back cover?) and he is left alone with just you, the reader.
I have had to be on guard reading this aloud to my son, making corrections - like “smart-alec” and “darn” along the way. I was a little disturbed that a book being marketed to the 10-15 year old demographic would include profanity. Ah well, guess that’s my conservatism showing again :).
As the vocabulary is sometimes a bit over his head and the action often moves very quickly, we have had lots of opportunities for discussion about what is actually taking place in the story and why. There is a scuzzy scene with kids dealing drugs . . . that led to some interesting conversations which made my husband want to toss the book (I didn’t bother to mention the profanity to him . . . ). I just took it in stride as the opportunity to have one of those “Just Say No” conversations.
My son and I have read several “Fantasy” books together - our recent favorite is the Deltora Quest series. To me, that’s a lot of very realistic stuff happening with a few twists of fantasy. Daniel X is LOTS of fantasy taking place on our very realistic planet. While it’s not my most favorite, my son is LOVING it. He loves the good guy vs. bad guy stuff (very super hero-oriented) and can’t wait to find out how Daniel X rids the world of all the bad aliens living here.
Oh, did I mention, we haven’t finished the book yet? Sorry, MotherTalk. Reading aloud is very slow, and of course all the discussion about what’s happening and why . . . then there was our week-long trip to Disney, my sore throat, homework, laundry . . . do I really need more excuses??? We’ve done quite well to get more than half way - don’t get me wrong - we are enjoying the book. There’s plenty of suspense such that we’re both disappointed when our schedule doesn’t give us ample time to read several chapters each night (BTW - I LOVE the super-short-chapter format of the book - we’re on page 155 and chapter 59!).
At the point we’ve reached in the book, we have absolutely no idea where the story will go from here or what the ending could possibly entail . . . but we can’t wait to find out! Be on the look-out for a follow-up post with the final “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” - so far it’s definitely a “thumbs up!”