Dare Mighty Things – Heather Kaczynski – HarperTeen – Published 10 October 2017
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.
From the very beginning this book was completely exciting. I had a huge grin of anticipation that I couldn’t wipe off my face – but maybe that was more to do with Cassandra’s smarts and humour. It’s so much fun hanging with someone who is clever, knows she is clever, and isn’t afraid to correct her internship boss’s math in front all his coworkers – go girl.
Cassandra knows she was born for something great – it’s expected of a child who was one of the first genetically engineered babies. When she is offered a place in a competition for a highly secretive NASA mission, Cass jumps at the opportunity. Leaving her family behind, Cass spends the next few months being tested to her limits and trying to outclass the other competitors. But no amount of physical or mental aptitude can prepare her for the challenges she will face, including making friends amongst her competitors. But the greatest challenge will be revealed if she makes it to the top spot and discovers what this mission aims to achieve.
Dare Mighty Things is set 26(ish) years in the future. Cass’ world largely resembles our own. Most things appear to have remained the same, despite increased weather disasters and decreased fertility levels. There also hasn’t been a space exploration – no funding – for years, which is why Cassandra is surprised to be asked to join a competition that offers a chance to travel into space.
Cass is a highly focused character. Yes, her genetics have been engineered to maximise her physical endurance and mental aptitude, but Cass also works really hard to be the best. At times she can sound a little stuck up -‘I know I’m the best’, but it is refreshing for a character to embrace her strengths and be proud of them. Cass also understands her weakness – social situations. Entering the competition, living and working amongst the competitors gives her the first chance to really make friends.
There are so many diverse characters in this book. They are all such strong, clear personalities, so it was really easy to get to know them as Cass does. The competitors are from around the world and Cass herself is an Indian-American and identifies as asexual.
The majority of the book is spent on the competition, which I really liked. There were plenty of challenges, from the first physical test – a three hour marathon -, to classes on physics, new technology to discover, wilderness survival challenges, and of course the mental stress of it all. I found it all really interesting and there was plenty of tension and action to keep the pace of the story moving.
The ending also throws out a huge twist that I did not see coming. I thought something would happen, but I didn’t predict that! I think it is going to make the second book in this series really interesting and I can’t wait to read it.
Through her journey Cass learns a lot about herself and far more than she could ever have imagined about her universe. There is also the slightest possibility (maybe?) of romance (but that ending?!)…guess I’ll just have to wait for book two to find out what happens next.
Dare Mighty Things is an exciting science-fiction adventure that provides a wonderful introduction to a series that promises to be full of surprises.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Space, friendship, competitions, space travel, genetic engineering, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Infrequent coarse language, sh** (15), bit** (1), ass**** (5), pis*** (2).
Published: 10 October 2017 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 288 pages.