Book review: Dan vs. Nature, by Don Calame

Calame, Don. Dan vs. Nature. Candlewick Press, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9780763670719. 375 pgs. Ages 14+. P9Q7

Calame Dan vs NatureDan is a skinny 16 year old who loves to create comic books and has a crush on a classmate. His mom is looking for Mr. Right, and thinks she’s found him in Hank. Dan, Hank and Dan’s evil genius friend Charlie go on a wilderness survival trip, and Dan and Charlie embark on a terror campaign of horrible pranks to make Hank reconsider how badly he wants to be a part of Dan’s family. This book is crude, full of bad language and embarrassing sexual jokes, and is laugh out loud funny. About half way through the book, I was starting to feel overloaded with vomit and horrible smells, but I have less patience with these things than some in the 14+ age group.  I think teenage boys and some girls too will love it- the embarrassing “serious discussions” and outrageous pranks designed to push Hank over the edge will definitely appeal. It is interesting that with all the juvenile tricks, it is Dan who ends up suffering the most when the group is in trouble and has to come together to survive. One reviewer called it a “coming of age catastrophe,” but everyone grows and learns something about themselves and dealing with others by the end.

May 2016 review by Carol Schramm.

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