22 June 2012

Review: Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

Crazy Dangerous first caught my attention as a review title because of the name – the juxtaposition of words reminded me of Hideous Kinky, the movie starring Kate Winslet, where the two girls combined words to come up with strange combinations. Crazy Dangerous fit the bill. The opening line also caught my eye: “You see that dead guy by the side of the road? ... That’s me”. So many books seem to have similar plots that I’m always looking for something original. A novel narrated by a dead guy? Yes, that’s a new one.

Well, it soon turns out that Sam Hopkins, the 16-year-old narrator, is not actually dead, although he was beaten up for defending weird classmate Jennifer, who speaks in rhyme and has hallucinations. Sam’s first-person narrative addresses the reader directly, and is interspersed with more distant third-person chapters from Jennifer’s view point. Jennifer’s passages gradually become less and less coherent, as though she is losing grip on reality.

Jennifer has recurring nightmares featuring creatures that want to kill her, and after Sam saves her, she becomes convinced that his name is a magic charm that will ward off the evil. (It isn’t.) But one of her visions seems to come true, and now she is convinced that something evil is going to happen on Sunday. Meanwhile, Sam has been challenged to ‘Do right. Fear nothing’ after finding a statue in his father’s study, and Sam is starting to wonder where this will lead...

Despite the gripping opening, the writing at the beginning of the book the style was lacking. Exclamation marks are overused, there is a lot of repetition (e.g. sentences beginning with the same word) and there are examples of odd word usage (at one point, "the car pulled a great big Huey, turning full around". A Huey is a helicopter, so I can only assume the author was trying to say ‘pulled a u-turn’).

However, the writing improves as the story progresses, and the second half of the novel moves very quickly as Sam tries to work out what Jennifer’s visions mean. Overall, the beginning and ending of Crazy Dangerous more than made up for a shaky middle, providing an exciting Young Adult suspense with solid Christian themes.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Booksneeze® for providing a free ebook for review.

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