Book review: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

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From Goodreads

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In an idyllic community of wealthy California families, new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for her kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents’ expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public: postable, shareable, indelible. With the rare talent that transforms teenage dramas into compelling and urgent fiction, Lindsey Lee Johnson makes vivid a modern adolescence lived in the gleam of the virtual, but rich with the sorrow, passion, and beauty of life in any time, and at any age. 

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★★★★☆

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was really solid!

I really enjoyed the format of this book. It alternates POV, with one POV following a new teacher in her first year teaching high school and the other POV following one of the students in said high school. You get to see the different students from their perspective as well as that of their peers. I thought it worked really well and moved along the plot. You can intuit what happens between the different POVs, and I thought it was really well done.

I also liked the array of students. There were popular students, unpopular students, the pretty girl who everyone admires but has no friends, the student everyone thinks is smart, the hippies, the dancer, etc. I really enjoyed seeing each of their perspectives and thought they were really interesting. None of them really left a major lasting impression, except maybe the pretty girl, but I can’t remember her name at the moment (Elizabeth, maybe?). I liked how her POV explored why she guards herself, and how subtly feminist her bit was. I also liked the explorations of friendship that happened in some of the POVs.

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I definitely enjoyed the student chapters more than the teacher chapters, but I didn’t think her chapters were a waste. I thought it was an interesting and necessary perspective, and I liked seeing her development as well.

Of course, everything was a little over-the-top, and if there’s something that can go wrong, it will happen. But, nothing was over-dramatic, I thought. It all felt very realistic. The students’ reactions to everything felt very realistic, as well.

The one major unrealistic part to me, which is fairly small but still annoyed me, was how Facebook was used. The way it was described by the author made it seem as if the students are posting everything and talking about everything openly on Facebook. This might have been true in 2010, but is far less true in 2019 (or 2018, when this book was published). The current generation of high schoolers don’t even have Facebook most of the time. So that part felt a bit out of touch. But, again, that’s fairly minor and didn’t really impact my enjoyment, and was also necessary at times to push the plot forward.

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Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you want an interesting, fairly easy read that still deals with heavy topics.

But those are just my thoughts! Have you read this? What were your thoughts? Do you plane on reading it? Let me know!

Ally xx


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9 thoughts on “Book review: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

  1. Gret review and this sounds like a really unique way to tell the story! I am glad that you found the narrative easy to follow, all those perspectives give me hives just thinking about them lol. I always laugh at how social media is depicted in books (as well as chat speak), so often it is so out of touch of reality. How hard is it to do a little research? Teenagers now don’t use Facebook. Hell, /I/ deleted mine a year ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kal! It was a super interesting way, and luckily it worked.

      And same!!! Luckily the chat speak wasn’t too much of an issue, but I was like “no one uses facebook like this???” I maybe did when I was in middle school, but no one does any more.

      Like

  2. That is one hazard of using something like Facebook as a critical part of a “vaguely modern” story. It does date the contents whether you intend it to or not. Calling it some generic “social media” is one thing: I don’t think that social media in general is going to die out any time soon. But calling out one specific social media platform is a lot trickier.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah yeah I hear you about technology changing a lot! I always find that can really date a book (I agree with Nicole on this, it’s better to just use a faceless brand, rather than actually name something that exists in real life). But other than that, this sounds like the multiple povs really worked, which is hard to get right. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

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