Think preteen trying really hard to act like a college student…
they come off as awkward and slightly annoying. If they would just be true to themselves they can actually be quite fun to be around. This is the best way I can sum up Daring the Bad Boy by Monica Murphy. It’s ironic that this would be my take on a book whose premise deals with mid-teens trying to shed their image and be true to the person inside.
I’d better save my praise for later and explain why I gave it only TWO STARS.
The title for one. Look for the book at any online book seller and you will see that the other books that come up with that exact or similar title are adult books with erotic undertones. Not a good first impression for a story that is listed for children. Luckily, Monica doesn’t go down that road.
I think Monica tried to make a great preteen book YA. The story centers around two teens, Annie and Jake, who come to summer camp with pasts they are trying to overcome. The story is told from alternating Jake and Annie perspectives so we get a good feel for both characters. They are pretty normal; experiencing typical teen thoughts and emotions, until their first encounter. The almost melodramatic contemplations of falling for the other seems out of place with the light bantering and first crush scenario of a preteen book. The addition of more older teen language, situations (drinking, hookups, looking at her ass, and a lesbian romance) took away from the story instead of enhancing it.
The story of 16 year old Annie and 17 year old Jake trying to remake their images is a relevant issue to many preteens and teens. They are at an age where they struggle with self confidence and acceptance. I think Monica was trying to write a story that addressed and encouraged kids to discover their true selves and be content with that. She writes in a clear, easy style that most pre and early teens would find appealing, and her characters have depth and personality, even though their romance had a little too much dramatic flare.
Would my 12 year be interested in a book like this? Probably. Would I let my 12 year old read this book? Probably not. Would this be more appropriate for my 18 year old? Yes. Would my 18 year old want to read this book? Probably not.