After reading Shannon Hale's latest, Dangerous, I'm so impressed by her range of genres and her work ethic. She's written books for children, adults (love Austenland!), graphic novels, and now this, her debut YA science-fiction novel, in which Maisie Danger Brown (yes, "Danger" is her middle name), a fairly sheltered girl missing one arm, wins a spot at a top-notch science camp and soon finds herself in the midst of a world she never imagined, full of aliens, dangerous businessmen, and scientists of questionable ethics. (I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to spoil it).
I was surprised to see how many reviewers didn't like this book: I enjoyed it. The plot was fast-paced, but it always felt under control. I loved Maisie, who was smart and funny and brave. I loved that she had a strong relationship with her parents, which seems to go against the norm in so much YA today. Yes, sometimes Maisie did feel a little young--but she *was* young. And she'd been kept home much of her life (but not for the reasons she thinks). I did think some of the characterization was a bit unrealistic--I have a PhD in English and even *I* don't know many people who quote poetry with the frequency some of the young scientists did. Don't get me wrong, I love the poetry (some of them are perfect for the book) and I think scientists are equally capable of appreciating poetry, but I found it hard to believe that these kids were all so versed in it. (See what I did there?)
But the book was full of Hale's signature wit and humor and the science she included felt real to me. I liked the big dilemmas Maisie faced and if the romance didn't always work for me, there were more than enough good things to make the story an enjoyable one.