Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dan vs. Nature

Geeky Dan Weeks is the last person you'd expect to find on a wilderness survival camping trip. He's more the sort to sit safely in his room in suburbia and work on drawing his comic book. And that goes double for Dan's germaphobe best friend, Charlie, who is twice as geeky and ten times as wimpy. Yet here they are. Hundreds of miles from civilization, with the cold ground as their bed and leaves know. 

How did a guy like Dan get himself into this mess?

It's like this: His mom, whose soon-to-be husband, Hank, is a hockey-loving outdoorsman, signed him up. So he can properly get to know his soon-to-be stepfather. Just them. Out in the Idaho wilderness. With nothing but their witts and a Swiss Army Knife. Worse than being out in the sticks? Being forced to bond with Hank, who Dan is positive is no different from the other losers and deadbeats his mom thought was "The One" (before they showed their true colors).

So Dan and Charlie formulate a plan: They will stage a series of increasingly gross and humiliating pranks until Hank can't take it anymore and flees like the cowardly snake the boys are sure he is. But that's easier said than done. Not only do the pranks backfire, but it turns out that Hank may not be such a bad guy after all. 

Dan vs. Nature is pretty much everything you'd expect from Don Calame, the author who penned Swim the Fly and its two sequels: Gross humor, crude language, seriously awkward moments, and plenty teen boy shenanigans. But it's also a coming-of-age story in which all the characters emerge better, more mature people for the torment they endured. There's even a bit of romance, albeit not the swoony fairy tale sort. Although it was likely written with teen boys in mind as a target audience, I think that Dan vs. Nature is something that lots of people (regardless of gender) would enjoy. 

Definitely recommended--AJB

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