The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Daniel X was born with the world’s most extraordinary power: the power to create. With his secret ability, he can conjure anything and everything, from inanimate objects to living, breathing people. This talent has helped him survive – but couldn’t save his parents from being brutally murdered. Discovering a strange list of names, Daniel vows to complete his father’s mysterious mission and hunt down his family’s assassin. Now, on his own, he must uncover the dark truth behind an apocalyptic struggle that will determine the fate of all mankind. But hot on his trail is a cunning killer – one who knows exactly what Daniel X can do.
Being a fan of Patterson’s YA Maximum Ride series, I knew from the moment Daniel X was released that I wanted to read it. After finishing it, I’m a little glad I didn’t purchase it in hardback. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good – I liked it – but it didn’t catch my attention the way the first Maximum Ride book did.
Both series are told in the first-person POV of the main character – Max, in Maximum Ride and Daniel, in Dainel X – but where the Maximum Ride series, for me, was non-stop action and smooth writing, Daniel X felt a little…harsh, kind of abrupt in the telling of the story. The writing is still smooth, James Patterson can definitely write, but I felt the book sounded almost like it was being told in Max’s voice (in the beginning, anyway). I don’t know if that was just because they were written in the same style, but by the time I was through the first third of the book, Daniel’s voice was coming through loud and strong. I also got a rather Men In Black vibe from it, what with the hunting of dangerous aliens on Earth.
On the good side of things, I really like Daniel’s powers; I think Patterson integrated them smoothly into the story by having Daniel just use them, everyday. The powers weren’t something spectacular that Daniel was constantly amazed by having – they were just a part of him. I loved all the little shout-outs to current culture: the book Water for Elephants, Star Trek, iPods, the movie Gladiator, Trivial Pursuit, etc. Patterson’s creatures/aliens are also pretty freaky, as we discover in the “forward” of the book:
“the fast-breeding creeps with burnt-looking metallic faces and deer horns bristling above hornet noses and stingers, who populate the American Midwest and parts of Europe. Or some very nasty sluglike thingies with jowls like water balloons about to burst all over much of Japan and China as well as New York City and Vancouver. Plus a host of human-skeletonish freaks with tentacle hair and green multifacted fly eyes; some white chocolate-colored cretins that look like giant human babies, only with glowing television fuzz for their eyes and mouths; and a praying mantis-looking race with shrunken heads, long red dreadlocks, and a pathetic need to kill, operating in the general area of Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.”
The book starts right off with the murder of Daniel’s parents when he’s three years old, and then skips to when he is fifteen and hunting down Alien Outlaw number 19 on the List that his parents had – and were subsequently murdered for, by Alien Outlaw number 1 (The Prayer) – the main bad guy for the series. The back of the book makes it sound as if Daniel had no idea about the List of the Alien Hunting his parents did, but he knows exactly what the List is, where it is, and retrieves it right after his parents are murdered. We also don’t see The Prayer at all in this first book, but rather Alien Outlaw number 6. I can only assume The Prayer will show up in the sequels.
The only other things I found a little confusing about the book is that at the age of three, Daniel is already a genius. At the age of fifteen he can still remember events from when he was three. Wouldn’t that lead you to assume his three year old self would have already known he himself is an alien? And, at one point in the book Daniel is shot at point-blank range in the stomach…and manages to not only live (for hours, if not days) but walk/run around. Aren’t stomach wounds usually pretty fatal? Unless it had something to do with his powers and we are just supposed to assume that.
I seem to be doing nothing but picking this book apart; I did like it, really! It’s a good storyline, and Daniel is an endearing character. Plus, the writing is good (it’s James Patterson. Of course the writing is good), the action moves along at a clipped and entertaining pace, and Daniel’s voice is real – for all that he’s a genius, he’s still a teenager. I think that this series is definitely geared more for teen/young readers, and that if I was 10 years younger I’d devour it without seeing the few issues I raised above. After all is said and written, I’d recommend it; it’s entertaining, that’s for sure.