By Andrew Klavan
Published May 1, 2012
Ages 14 and up
e-book from publisher
“You probably want to hear about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and—oh yeah—the weird murder and how I found out about it—you’re definitely going to want to hear about that. But first, I have to tell you about the stupidest thing I ever did . . .”
Sam Hopkins is bored with his status as a preacher’s kid. So when a group of guys notorious for being in trouble offers him friendship, he accepts. Before long, he has several new skills—including hot-wiring cars.
At school, there’s an eccentric loner named Jennifer. When Sam defends her from being bullied, she begins to seek him out as her only friend. Her ramblings often seem illogical . . . but then start to contain grains of truth. One leads Sam to discover that one of his new friends has been killed. And then she tells him, “I’m looking for the devil.” Sam doesn’t know what that means, but he knows it’s a matter of life and death that he figure it out.
Everyone else thinks Jennifer is suffering from schizophrenia. But Sam is starting to wonder if there could be something prophetic in her words. Discovering the truth is going to be both crazy and dangerous.
At its core CRAZY DANGEROUS is a book about the crazy twists of fate that shape and mold the events and outcomes of our every action and choice in life. At the surface it is an intense and danger-filled story about a boy and the supposedly crazy girl that he decided to protect one fateful day. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed this story.
It’s refreshing to find a suspenseful young adult title told from a male point of view that doesn’t involve obvious paranormal, dramatic or otherwise unbelievable elements… Although involving a self-deprecating young man, the plot and style of Crazy Dangerous reads like the best works of Joe Hill, or perhaps (at some level) his father Stephen King. The main character, Sam Hopkins, is such a likeable young man, even when he makes wrong decisions, that I was 100% on his side from page one. I love the funny and realistic voice he brings to the story. The situations he gets into are dangerous, but he is steadfast and does what he knows is right. He has guts. Sam is a true hero for modern day teens. In addition, the “crazy” girl, Jennifer, was a mystery I could not wait for Sam to solve. I didn’t exactly connect with her, but I don’t think I was supposed to. She is more a tool than a relatable character. All the other characters involved, both good and bad, brought more to the story than I had initially hoped for. I also had no clue how it would end, nor how the individual characters would ultimately be involved in the overall mystery. The characters definitely made this book a teenage suspense worth reading.
At just over 300 pages, the pacing is spot on for a good suspense novel. Starting off on a… seriously weird (see Stephen King)… note, the rest of the book involves a boy who ends up with the wrong crowd and a girl who turns his life and everything he ever believed in upside down. Seriously, I had no idea what was going to happen with every page I turned. I questioned whether demons were real, if the mind can create more reality than we actually see in front of us. At the end of the day, Crazy Dangerous will leave you questioning fate and destiny. It will leave you breathless. It will perhaps leave you thinking about how the themes within the novel ring true for young people today, no matter how crazy those themes may be.
Perhaps crazy should be the new black.
Plot: 8 (At once alarming, but very real, the plot was a mystery I couldn’t wait to be solved)
Characters: 8 (Sam is an excellent MC, Jennifer was hard to relate to, the characters drove the story)
Setting: 8 (Both true to high school life, yet scary at the same time)
Pacing: 10 (Fast, frenetic, just as a good suspense should be)
Style: 8 (Reads much like Stephen King/Joe Hill for young adults, but a little too weird at times)