Dangerous Play

Featured
Dangerous Play
Author(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
August 03, 2021
ISBN
978-1250750488
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A fierce team of girls takes back the night in this propulsive, electrifying, and high-stakes YA debut from Emma Kress Zoe Alamandar has one goal: win the State Field Hockey Championships and earn a scholarship that will get her the hell out of Central New York. She and her co-captain Ava Cervantes have assembled a fierce team of dedicated girls who will work hard and play by the rules. But after Zoe is sexually assaulted at a party, she finds a new goal: make sure no girl feels unsafe again. Zoe and her teammates decide to stop playing by the rules and take justice into their own hands. Soon, their suburban town has a team of superheroes meting out punishments, but one night of vigilantism may cost Zoe her team, the championship, her scholarship, and her future. Perfect for fans who loved the female friendships of Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie and the bite of Courtney Summer’s Sadie.

Editor review

1 review
powerful YA contemporary read
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
DANGEROUS PLAY was a challenging read that confronts the problematic treatment of women and girls and the authorities that overlook it. Zoe is a team captain of her field hockey (fockey) team, and she is excited for this season, as she knows that the team she has helped to build can take it all the way to the championships. The team is close and hangs out to do parkour among other things.

After a teammate is punished for reacting to an assault in the hallway while the boy goes free, Zoe begins to see the double-standard, and the weight of the treatment falling on the girls (eg, that their uniform skirts are too short and that they shouldn't react to this abuse) while the boys are noted for being so good and from such good families. This only gets worse after she is assaulted at a party, and Zoe feels herself spiraling into her powerlessness. When she begins to hear others' stories, they decide that it is time to react and help others, trying to put their rage towards something better.

As things begin to explode, Zoe will have to decide who she wants to be and what she can do to reclaim her own power.

What I loved: This book handles a really difficult and complex topic in a powerful way. The demonstration of the reaction of authority figures as well as even the off-hand comments of bystanders and parents molds the pain and devastation experienced by the victims. While the reaction of the girls may go too far, the actions of the boys already went way too far. The book also showed the importance of bystanders speaking up, particularly male allies, and those in authority preventing others from doing what they typically do. The juxtaposition of earlier and later scenes shows the importance of these shifts, and the power in having others believe your truths. The book definitely brings up a lot of rage for the things women/girls are forced to endure and are supposed to ignore - even when they are absolutely unacceptable. These themes will definitely speak to female readers, who have experienced some level of these problematic behaviors in their own lives.

The emotions and consequences all felt very real, and I appreciated seeing Zoe's story and feeling it alongside her. Other themes around the way we treat others, relationships with family, and the power of friendship added to make this a really great story. Zoe is a compelling character, and I loved her teammates, her coach, and her family (especially her father and some of her aunts) as well.

What left me wanting more: As a small point, I found the field hockey and parkour to be somewhat distracting, and I would have liked less of it, but I do appreciate the way that it related to her emotions and healing (also, her coach was amazing). The beginning was a bit slow and felt like it was going to be a different story, but it does pick up and pull the reader in fairly quickly.

Final verdict: DANGEROUS PLAY is a powerful YA contemporary read about #metoo, friendship, and healing.
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