What's on top of Danger Peak? That's what 13-year-old Robert Kin and his two best friends, wisecracking and loyal Chris and sweet but put-upon Rinnie, want to find out in their small suburban town of the late 1980s. The three teens are members of the motorbike-racing club the Wild Boars, and with the inadvertent help of their eccentric technology teacher, Dr. Howard (who prefers to be called “Doctor,” not “Mister,” thank you very much), they build Robert a better, faster, and stronger dirt bike—piece by piece. Haunted by flashbacks of his older brother Danny, who died trying to scale Danger Peak the year before, Robert becomes obsessed with conquering the magical mountain. For the respect of his friends and school, and with the aid of his improved Action Bike, he discovers what lies beyond the peak of the mountain—and maybe even beyond the bounds of Earth itself. Filled with humor, adventure, and, most importantly, heart, Danger Peak is an inspiring story about what it takes to achieve your dreams—and what it means to feel alive.
Plot/Idea: This coming-of-age journey moves forward with teenage characters, their adventures, struggles, and dreams, revealing their inner beauty as well as their heartbreaks.
Prose: The writing style and voice reflect a small suburban town during this time period. Since the Wild Boars motorbike-racing club is at the heart of the story, the reader might expect to see a faster-paced narration. At times, the dialogue feels drawn out. The ending of the story is strong and memorable.
Originality: The setting and place are integral to this narrative. The pace of the story reflects the time period of a small suburban town of the late 1980s, but does not quite match the fast pace of a racing club.
Character Development/Execution: The story depicts a world in which motorbikes are highly significant; in other words, motorbikes are non-human characters. The human characters are well-developed, but the description/development of the motorbikes feels mundane and unexciting. Character Rinnie would benefit from greater development.
Date Submitted: June 29, 2022
Perone sets up the perfect teenage boy crusade in these pages, packed with dirt bike racing, mechanical know-how, a dash of romance, and even some high-speed chases, all under the guise of Robert’s quest to “conquer the mountain that had conquered his brother.” Robert is single-minded in his focus, almost to the point of obsession, as he tries to dodge painful memories of his brother while coming to terms with his father’s poor handling of his own grief, and the story exposes the cracks in his family through flashbacks to when Danny was alive—and a curious scene at the end, when Robert gets a chance at an emotional breakthrough.
Ultimately, Robert’s mission is successful, although it takes the help of his eccentric crew and one mysterious teacher to get him there. The fun is diminished at times by Perone’s humor—cracks like the one about coming “out of the closet” make it hard to read the line about the boys keeping “their silence like altar boys in church” in any but the darkest sense. In the end, this feel-good tale on how to handle grief, accompanied by a crash course on refusing to give up your dreams, will please younger readers.
Takeaway: A teenage boy sets his sights on the impossible in this lighthearted adventure
Great for fans of: Brandon Wallace’s Wilder Boys, Gary Paulsen’s Woods Runner.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
In Perone’s 1980s-set novel, a young man grieves for his brother, embarks upon a dangerous adventure, and gains maturity.
After his brother, Danny, dies while biking the 12,000-foot Danger Peak, 13-year-old Robert Kin has one goal: to bike the peak himself. Robert, along with his friends Chris and Rinnie—motorbiking members of the Wild Boars—prepare what they call “The Action Bike” for their adventure. To do so, they must obtain tools and tires from Robert’s critical, authoritarian father as well as two items that their eccentric science teacher, Dr. Forrest Howard, invented. Specifically, they need Danny’s turbocharger and the mad doctor’s new laser, designed to shatter rocks. However, they learn that the challenge not only involves the bike’s mechanics and finding technology to beat nature; it’s about developing relationships and making important life choices. In the prologue, Perone immediately engages the reader with Robert’s first ride through his neighborhood as well as with references to 1980s music, television, history, and culture. It’s clear from the start how the young protagonist sees the world after Danny’s death, and readers can taste the freedom of adolescence as the Wild Boars emulate chase scenes from CHiPs and plan like the title character of MacGyver to get what they want... Perone’s debut novel is reminiscent of Chris Crutcher’s Ironman (1995), presenting an engaging, throwback coming-of-age tale.
A compelling bildungsroman about grief and finding wisdom.
Danger Peak by Michael Thomas Perone is a feel-good coming-of-age story that follows 13-year-old Robert and his best friends Chris and Rinnie. We follow this group of friends who are part of the motorbike racing club known as the Wild Boars. Readers are taken on an adventure filled with nostalgia, courage, and determination as Robert sets out to conquer Danger Peak. Author Perone transports the reader back into the '80s, filled with references to Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and good times like getting into mischief with friends. This nostalgic book reminded me of The Sandlot, but instead of tackling “The Beast,” it is Danger Peak this time.The characters are well developed, and the author perfectly portrays the teenage attitude where all kids want to do is hang out with friends and have a good time, making this a relatable read to young readers. Robert’s determination is inspiring, and there are times when you feel sad for him, especially when he has flashbacks of his older brother Danny. I also enjoyed the fact that Robert’s family didn’t come off as the perfect family, and they were going through real problems. The author’s writing is not elaborate or detailed and is perfect for middle-aged readers.Danger Peak is an entertaining, page-turning read that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster. I highly recommend this book to middle-grade readers and even those who want to reminisce about the good old days of growing up in the '80s. 5 out of 5 stars.
Danger Peak is a great and adventurous book that always keeps you on your toes. …The plot was really exciting, especially the mountain-climbing scene. The author writes well, with very descriptive sentences that really bring out the drama. …Danger Peak is a thrilling and perilous book with a lot of excitement and the perfect book for someone looking for a very dangerous ride of a book! 5 out of 5 stars.
Perone weaves a compelling tale of one young boy’s coming-of-age journey in his engrossing debut… (He) beautifully develops Robert’s emotional arc (of wanting) to attain his goal of conquering the mountain but feels frustrated in the face of his father’s impossibly difficult attitude. He deftly portrays the young boy’s fears and insecurities, his longing for Danny, and his burning need for acceptance and understanding. Crisp and straightforward, the prose is smooth and the pacing measured. A dash of magical realism adds to the intrigue, and themes of teenage angst, friendship, bullying, grief, understanding, acceptance, and sibling bonds are beautifully woven into the narrative. A gripping, raw read.
Danger Peak won Second Place in The Fall 2022 BookFest Awards in the category of Young Adult Action and Adventure. BookFest is an online event that brings the reading, writing, and publishing communities together. A few of the speakers at The Fall 2022 BookFest were international bestseller Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven) and the actor/writer Danny Trejo.