Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review: Dangerously Placed

by Nansi Kunze
Start Date: 12 October 2011
End Date: 19 October 2011
Paperback, 282 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Random House Australia

Summary (from Goodreads):
He lay on the ground, his eyes open but unseeing, his pinstriped body blinking in and out of existence like the picture on a faulty television.

Alex Thaler can't wait to start her dream work experience placement at Virk, where staff from all over the world mingle in an astonishing virtual office. But when an employee is found murdered, the dream becomes a nightmare—because Alex is the prime suspect. Fortunately, Alex's friends are willing to brave shark tanks, disgusting pathology specimens, and even a nude beach in order to clear her name. Can a hippie chick, a goth girl in a lab coat, and two guys with a taste for blowing things up really help solve the mystery before Alex becomes the next victim?

My Review:
If I had to sum up Dangerously Placed in one word, I'd call it unique. It's very different from my normal reading experience, and I enjoyed the change. I kept coming back to it more to find out what crazy situation Alex had found herself in this time than to figure out the mystery. Not to say the mystery wasn't engaging - it was - but it wasn't the draw of the story.

Although the premise of Dangerously Placed had to do with virtual reality, much of the story had a contemporary feel - or at least, more contemporary than what I usually read. I liked Alex, who was easy to connect to, and the writing was informal and fun. Some of the supporting characters weren't as fully fleshed out as I would have liked, but none felt too flat, and all seemed like real people, although perhaps real people that one does not know very well. Some seemed a bit too quirky to be wholly believable. but each was far more developed than "list of character traits" stock characters.

The mystery fits into the story very well; it acted as a driving force without completely taking over. The incorporation of the virtual reality aspect made for a less-than-usual mystery, and Kunze revealed the clues superbly, without being too subtle or too obvious, and each making me suspect a different person. I was so pleased with myself every time I thought I had it figured out, only to be proved wrong several chapters later. But when I murderer was finally revealed I was totally taken by surprise. It wasn't so much an "aha" moment as a "wait... how does that... sure, I guess that makes sense" moment that made more and more sense as the whole backstory was revealed. I completely missed the clues leading me to the correct person, and so it took me completely by surprise. that said, some of you clever mystery-figure-outers will probably be able to guess much more easily than me. I tend not to see who the villain of the story is until the main character does. Much of the time I've just stopped trying.

I'd recommend Dangerously Placed to teens rather than MGers because of references to some "thematic material" although nothing much happens to Alex beyond a kiss or two (speaking of, the romance was completely unexpected and super sweet).

Overall Thoughts: A unique, fun murder mystery. I'm looking forward to more from Nansi Kunze.

Check back on Friday for an interview with Nansi Kunze as part of the Dangerously Placed blog tour!

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