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Dare Mighty Things


Dare Mighty Things

In Heather Kaczynski’s DARE MIGHTY THINGS, 18-year-old Cassandra Gupta is chosen to partake in a competition where if she wins, she can go to space. She has to engage in physical, intellectual and psychological challenges, trying to beat out the dozens of other young people from 18 to 25 who are also aiming to be one of the two going into space. She has to fight for her place in the pecking order, even if that means losing her new friends and forcing herself to become someone that she is not.

The concept for this book is interesting. A competition to go to space? Count me in. The competition aspects of the book were truly interesting, and the physical test was excruciating to read about. I am in no way an athlete, and I was cringing at the duration and intensity of the “race.” Hats off to the characters who made it past that test! My favorite aspect of the competition was the sessions with the psychologist. I love psychology, so it was interesting to see how Cass, a verifiable genius, interpreted and interacted with the psychologist.

"As a nerdy person, I appreciated the nod to science present in DARE MIGHTY THINGS....If you like science fiction with a little action, this is the book for you."

As a nerdy person, I appreciated the nod to science present in DARE MIGHTY THINGS. While I might be more liberal arts-focused than STEM, I can still enjoy learning about space and time, two concepts which are messed with in this book. The lectures about physics and aerospace engineering might go over my head, but it is interesting to see how theory comes into place.

The one thing I liked the most about DARE MIGHTY THINGS, however, was the friendships Cass made. Emilio is one of those characters who you immediately like. Even the main character Cass has a hard time not liking Emilio. He is casual and funny in a way that Cass is not. He does not mind what people think of him. He makes friends easily. Mitsuko, meanwhile, was hilarious and sassy. While Cass seems reactionary unless it relates to the competition, Mitsuko is all action. She questions the competition they are in, even though she is one of the top-ranked competitors.

These two characters are insanely likable and foils to Cass's cold, standoffish character. I saw how they helped her grow as a person, forcing her out of her shell and forcing her to engage in conversation and relationships. They are two characters that remain with you long after Cass does.

On the other hand, Cass is unlikable for sure. She is caustic and casual. I love her drive and intelligence, but she acts snobbish about her achievements. Because I did not see her much before the competition, all her remarks about winning and success fall flat. It seems as if she is bragging. Like many readers, I am not a piano virtuoso or a NASA intern, and I wanted to know what that means for her.

The story is set in the future (which is mentioned in passing with the 2030s space launches) which gives it another layer. The problem is that this future is never truly explored. Everything in the book could be set in the present day. I wanted to see what the amenities were like, but nothing in the competition was high-tech. Sure, there were the hibernation pods and the spaceship itself, but nothing stood out. They used old tablets and went around in g-force testing equipment like astronauts use now. Nothing felt futuristic minus the minor details. I wanted to see how the future would look if there was this competition.

The thing I liked the least was the romance. Of course, I always say that, but this book even more so. Cass’s love interest, Luka, is a loner, which is fine. What is not fine is how Cass spends at most three days in his presence and still ends up with him. We learn nothing about Luka. He is magnetic in the way that he is aloof and understanding of all of the classes they take and has only one fault: the EEG test. That is all I know about him, yet Cass is drawn to him. Why? I cannot say for sure.

If this book was more focused on the competition and spent less time on Cass and Luka, I think I would like it better. If you like science fiction with a little action, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Wren L., Teen Board Member on December 13, 2017

Dare Mighty Things
by Heather Kaczynski