most dangerous place on earth book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

It’s been more than ten years since I was in high school, but I do have a younger brother who’s still there…and I really am thankful that he doesn’t have the attitude of any of the characters in this book. Honestly, not a single character in The Most Dangerous Place on Earth was likable. I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended, but that’s how I felt.

The novel tells the somewhat disjointed story of a group of kids who have grown up and gone to school together since their elementary years. In eighth grade, something tragically avoidable (and very maddening to read about) happened to one of their classmates, and though you’d think it would affect all of the kids’ lives pretty deeply, it doesn’t.

Each section in the book is about a different character and how they have been getting on from the eighth grade incident, going into their junior year. Some kids feel responsible, change their demeanor completely, change their entire group of friends. Others never give a second thought to what happened back then. Almost all of them though, make dangerous and harmful decisions that have a big impact on their futures.

There are also a few sections from the viewpoint of a new teacher in their high school; a woman who feels like she’s still close enough to her students’ age group that she can be their confidante instead of another adult who tells them what to do. Her chapters feel sad and ultimately pointless, though.

I was truly riveted and invested in the first part of the book that took place before the high school years, but after that, as I got to know the cast of characters more, I lost interest. As I said, I didn’t find a single one of them engaging, and as a matter of fact, more than one of them were stereotypes. An Asian boy whose grades and hard work are never good enough for his overbearing parents, a baseball star who has good looks but nothing else going for him. These are tired cliches and made for one dimensional teenagers.

I guess what I was left feeling mostly, was mad. Angry that there was such a lack of parental involvement in these kids’ lives, heavily disappointed that all of them were so selfish. Maybe I’m lucky that I haven’t known many teenagers like that in my lifetime. This book gave me a peek into a world that I’m unfamiliar with, and if the tone rings true, one I don’t want to ever know.

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.