Friday, December 15, 2017

Review: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

Title: Dare Mighty Things
Author: Heather Kaczynski
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 377


THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything. (taken from

“I am offering you a chance that precious few humans in history have been given. You must put earthly concerns behind you. Look only to the future."

Alas, this book just wasn't what I wanted it to be.

I don't know why I keep picking up science fiction novels when I don't really enjoy them. It's not like I hate them or anything, but math and advanced technology really don't hold much of an appeal for me. Even aliens don't spark my interest very much. I especially hate the thought of claustrophobic spaceships, so some of my problems with this book might be more attributed to my personal preferences than Kacynski's story or skills. Keep that in mind as I critique a few other points.

Let's start by looking at Cassandra, the main character. She's interesting, if a little conceited and awkward. However, I couldn't really bond with her at some points due to her selfish worries and inability to really care much about others. Also, she identifies as asexual, which is a selling point for many readers, but if you ask me, she seems a little too interested in blushing and thinking about kissing while around male characters to truly be considered asexual. The inclusion of that label felt like a desperate grab for attention. Any other depth and growth Cass experiences throughout the novel comes across as somewhat forced, as though Kacynski feels she must build her a little in order to make the story worth reading.

The story starts out extremely quickly. One second our robotic heroine Cass is an intern at NASA, the next she's being whisked away to Houston to participate in some strange competition. Unfortunately, things slow down a little too much after that. By the time I was three quarters of the way through the novel, I was skimming paragraphs because I was so bored. Maybe that's because I don't care about astrophysics and interstellar travel, or maybe it's because it's a legitimately uninteresting story. Even the ending made me yawn, considering I predicted it approximately 100 pages earlier.

There are a few redeeming stars in the story, like Emilio, Mitsuko, and some of the other candidates. However, their relationships with Cass are fairly forced, and due to the nature of the competition, many of them are whisked away too soon.

Another comment: Don't expect an adventure set in outer space. I hope this isn't too much of a spoiler, but I think it's fair to let you know that no actual space travel takes place until the very end of the novel. Then, just as things started to get interesting, we run out of pages.

Maybe I'll just chalk this one up to a "it's not you, it's me" kind of thing. I was bored by the lack of action and romance, and the main character was pretty blech if you ask me. Definitely disappointed that this one didn't live up to my expectations, but maybe somebody else will have more appreciation for Kacynski's attention to detail and description of near-future technology.