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Book Review: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Revenge is a popular theme right now. Earlier this year, I highlighted 5 titles about characters seeking revenge. And I had just finished reading Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, which definitely has a revenge theme. And now we can certainly add Mortal Danger to this list as well. Although to be fair, Mortal Danger touches on so much more than just revenge and it would make a great addition to a STEM booklist and it has some fun supernatural twists. In fact, I would also recommend this to Buffy/Angel fans.

I began reading this book the day after it was revealed that Robin Williams has taken his own life. So it was startling to begin this tale which begins with a very honest look into a young lady who is literally walking out to the edge of the cliff to end her life. She has been utterly devastated, has meticulously thought out her plan, and her pain is palpable. To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for this opening, which is well down but definitely disturbing.

But she is stopped by a boy who makes her a deal. She lives, gets three “favors”, and then she has to do three “favors” in return. There’s a good chance she is making a deal with the devil, but the opportunity to get revenge on those who have driven her to the literal brink is a delicious prospect.

One of my favorite things about this book is Edie. Edie is whip smart, not smart enough not to take a deal with the devil, but smart enough to start figuring out how to be a better player in this game between immortals that she has gotten herself tied up in. And she is smart enough to not be sure about Kian’s, the boy who offers her the deal, affections – they could be sincere, but they could also be part of some sinister plan. It was refreshing that she didn’t just fall in love and trust with him, but that she had the sense to question his motives and sincerity.

My other favorite thing about this book is how well Aguirre humanizes those that Edie seeking revenge on. Her first wish is to become one of the beautiful people. Her plan is to infiltrate the gang and then beat them at their own game. The only problem is that as she gets to know some of them, it turns out they all have their own demons they are wrestling with as well. This is one of the things I appreciated about Some Girls Are as well; it’s easy to characterize bullies as evil through and through, it’s much harder to recognize the very real insecurities and expectations that can motivate them to engage in such despicable acts.

And then Mortal Danger adds the paranormal flair. Aguirre puts some unique and interesting twists on the stuff of legends and how they come to be in our world. As a fan of Joss Whedon, I couldn’t help but think that Aguirre is a fan of the TV show Angel as we learn more about who Edie has made a deal with and what it means for her. As the veil as lifted on the major players I see so many aspects of the first couple of seasons of Angel in particular. I can’t say more, but if you are a fan of the show then read this book. You will not be disappointed.

My only real quibble with the book was the pacing. The action would really start to ramp up, and then there would be a long periods of time when Edie seems very safe and is left alone. There were some truly creepy things that happen and some awesome creepy characters that we meet along the way, but I felt like Aguirre was stepping on the gas and then would suddenly break. It was kind of jarring at times.

Aguirre manages to tie in themes of acceptance – both of self and the cliquish world of high school – in with some fun supernatural elements and presents us with an intelligent, growing female main character that is believable. There are some very real and genuine emotional moments that occur here as well, Edie’s newfound life does not come without great cost. I highly recommend this book and think that teen readers will like it. It’s obviously going to continue and I, for one, hope Edie finds a way to win