“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.
Crazy Dangerous captured my attention right away. We are introduced to the main character, Sam Hopkins, via his narration and a description of him lying bloodied and bruised on the side of the road. He goes on to tell us about “the stupidest thing he ever did”, which is what put him in that place on the side of the road. From there, we’re launched into his life life as a goody-two-shoes Preacher’s Kid (PK) who just wants to fit in. That is, until he does fit in – with the wrong crowd.
The group of guys that Sam starts hanging out with spell trouble with a capital “T”. As a reader, you want to shake Sam by the shoulders and tell him to run away. However, you can’t help but feel for him as he describes how differently people treat him just because he’s a “PK”. The awkward pauses when he happens to hear a dirty joke, the overly polite way his peers address him when he passes. I grew up in a very religious household myself, and my own father was a preacher for the deaf ministry in the church. I always felt a lot of pressure to be “good” and to be “different”. When you’re a kid, you don’t want to be different – you want to belong; to fit in. I think this is where I connected with Sam the most.
Sam’s narration was very informal, just as if we were chatting over dinner together. I actually was not a fan of this style of narration, because I felt that it was very juvenile. I had to keep reminding myself that Sam is actually sixteen and not twelve. However, about halfway in, I think the drama that began to build made me forget my annoyance at the informal narration, and I got sucked into the story.
The point-of-view switches throughout the story, from Sam to Jennifer Sales, a sweet girl from his school who is teased mercilessly for her eccentricities. She often babbles incoherently, spouting prophecies and talking about demons. I really enjoyed her point-of-view, and thought her abilities were portrayed realistically. Jennifer added a real sense of mystery and intensity to the story, which kept me reading right through to the very last page.
Working with Jennifer and reading further into her vague prophecies, Sam eventually finds himself sitting in the middle of a police station and entrenched in a sinister plot that could shake up the town he lives in for decades to come. I did feel that things were a bit predictable throughout the story, but I chalk that up to being a former-PK myself, and having read tons of religious fiction in the past. I think younger teens will enjoy this story, and hopefully learn several valuable lessons about the dangers of peer pressure and judging others, and the importance of doing what’s right, even if it hurts.
Overall, Crazy Dangerous is an admirable step forward into Young Adult literature for Andrew Klavan, and I look forward to seeing what other stories this skilled story-teller has in his arsenal.
If Crazy Dangerous sounds like your kind of read, be sure to check out this fabulous giveaway, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Fiction, for a FREE eBook copy for your Nook, Kindle, or other eReader.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via YA Bound in exchange for an honest review.
Award winning author, screenwriter and media commentator Andrew Klavan is the author of such internationally bestselling novels as True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas. Andrew has been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award five times and has won twice. His books have been translated around the world. His latest novel for adults, The Identity Man, has been praised by Nelson Demille as “fast paced, intelligent and thought-provoking; a great read!” Television and radio host Glenn Beck says “Andrew Klavan never disappoints…one of the best illustrations of the power of redemption that I’ve ever read.” His last novel Empire of Lies was about media bias in the age of terror, and topped Amazon.com’s thriller list. Andrew has also published a series of thrillers for young adults, The Homelanders, which follows a patriotic teenager’s battle against jihadists. The books have been optioned to be made into movies by Summit Entertainment, the team behind the mega-successful Twilight film series.