James Patterson is well known for his thrillers, from his Alex Cross series to his stand-alone shots of mystery and suspense, but a far more recent addition to his canon is thrillers for the young adult market, which he calls Page Turners, first with his Maximum Ride series, and now with his new series following Daniel X, Alien Hunter. Based on the extra material in the back of the book, Patterson is working very hard to create books to get young adults, in particular boys, reading. This is a very worthy goal, and one that has been a gap needing to be filled for quite a while, so it is great to see a well-known, successful author tackling it. I entered into it with very high hopes, both for my own enjoyment as well as for the need of a good book to help his cause. After reading The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, I think that Patterson is definitely on the right track.
Daniel is an orphan, having witnessed his parents’ murder at the age of three. A very dangerous alien, called The Prayer, comes looking for The List, and murders them in his quest to find it. However, Daniel is in possession of great abilities, to include the power to create. He escapes, and uses his life from that moment on as an Alien Hunter, continuing his parents work and hoping to one day be strong enough to avenge their murder. As the book begins, Daniel has worked his way up his list of most dangerous aliens, arriving in the top twenty. However, after his current threat, he moves to the alien listed as number 6 on his most dangerous list, and heads to L.A., where he starts high school, falls in love, and learns the value of friendship.
The novel contains a couple of contradictions, from actions that Daniel does that are instantly shown as being bad so that the young adult audience doesn’t mimic them, to his knowledge of a certain animal being from his planet, when he says a few pages earlier he thinks, not knows, that he might be an alien. Also unexplained is Daniel’s limitless money supply, as he can rent houses, buy food, and have fun without needing a job.
Yet, despite these shortcomings, the book is fun. It isn’t necessarily deep, but it maintains a very light, enjoyable tone throughout, one that I know I would have loved as a kid. Daniel has action-packed adventures and travels the cosmos, and he never goes out of character. The book moves fast. This seems to be a great step in Patterson’s plan to get kids reading, and I applaud him. I look forward to Daniel’s next adventure.