This is a book marketed as YA that seemed more Middle Grade or Tween to me. The protagonist is a young girl named Maisie Danger Brown who has always wanted to be an astronaut in spite of having only one hand because of a congenital disorder. That would never stop Maisie, however, and she enters and wins a contest to attend Howell Astronaut Boot Camp created by billionaire Bonnie Howell “to ignite the love of science in the teenage mind.”
At the camp, Maisie brushes off cruel remarks about her hand, meets a cute boy, and gets her first kiss. All that is great. But the deal breaker for me is the part about the adults who are running the camp. They are not only absurdly eccentric (fine perhaps for being scientists but not for running a big successful business) but also they inexplicably and amazingly allow Maisie and five of her camp mates to handle some secret alien artifacts, about which they claim to know nothing. The objects invade the bodies of the kids, endowing them with superpowers (but of course, could have infected them lethally instead). Holy X-Teens! Where is the Hazmat Team? More importantly, where are the lawyers?
Evaluation: The premise of this book is just too absurd in too many parts for me to carry on reading. The adults are stupid in ways often common in Middle Grade books, but not really believable once you get past that level. It hurts to feel let down by Shannon Hale, although she doesn’t disappoint in terms of providing yet another plucky, admirable female heroine. It’s possible the story gets better, but I couldn’t get past the ridiculous, almost campy [pun intended] set-up.
Note: Speaking of puns, this book has some great ones. Maisie’s father is a punster (hence Maisie being named so that she could say “Danger is my middle name….”), and I wished we readers could spend more time with him . . . .
Published by Bloomsbury, 2014