From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else? Quoted from Goodreads
I'll be the first to admit, the above blurb doesn't do much to explain the book. I knew a little bit more about what to expect because I follow her blog, but even so, I was going it knowing very little. First, it's science fiction---as in aliens and space camp---not exactly what you might expect from the writer of Goose Girl and Princess Academy. Still, I thought it was a great adventure, and I really appreciate the stand alone status. That's almost impossible to find these days.
I love Maisie Danger Brown, and yes, Shannon Hale really went there and made her middle name Danger. In fact some of the names were the absolutely awesome. I adore Jonathan Ingles Wilder (What can I say? The Little House books are among my top favorite books of all time) and even Dragon. Back to Maisie, she's a great main character. She's strong, doesn't accept her limitations (she only has one arm) an adorable science geek, and a dreamer all at the same time. She also feels like a genuine teenager, not overly adult or what an adult thinks a teenager is. I love no matter what crazy thing happens to her (and a lot of crazy stuff does) she keeps fighting and does her best with whatever comes her way.
The adventure itself is unexpected (and I say that, knowing science fiction is really popular right now). There are a lot of aspects that you just never see in YA books. For example, Maisie goes on the run at one point and her parents come with her! That literally never happens, but it worked really well and didn't diminish the responsibility on Maisie's shoulders or the decisions she had to make. Plus, along with some common ones, we get some great new super powers to play with (sorry if that's a spoiler), rather terrifying and absurd (I'm talking pink, here) aliens, greedy criminals, shifting loyalties, life on the run, genius children, and a fun, all-around adventure.
Really my only complaint is that I felt the book started rather slow. I realize that we needed to establish Maisie as a character and her life pre-space camp, but besides a few need-to-know details, I felt like the story really started at the end of space camp and there could have been other ways to learn all those little pesky details that make Maisie who she is. Still, it's always interesting, and once the adventure starts, I couldn't put the book down.
All in all, this is a strong 4 stars for me. I love that the author tried (and succeeded) in doing something new. I love the main character and Hale's version of our not too distant future. So if you're looking for a fun, exciting read, you should check this out. Just remember it is different from Hale's other work, and it's supposed to be. Plus, once you've read this, you can check off book one of the five books Shannon Hale's putting out this year. It's going to be great.