This is serious business. Sex and violence and rock and roll – John Cougar Mellencamp
Can I state something here? The Dangerous Type is pure pulp. Yes it is, but why say that like it is a bad thing? Can’t a book be pulp and still be good? And let me further break down just how pulp this book is before we come to conclusions. It is a revenge tale where a small beautiful woman, who by the way hasn’t aged at all in twenty years, goes against a villain who is galaxy destroying bad. The book contains a sexy gunrunner, zero gravity martial arts, and at least one male fantasy threesome viewed with a heavy male gaze. Pulp right?
We can zoom in on the villain a bit too because it helps make the case for this book being dismissed as pulp. The man is on the books for exterminating an entire alien race; an act that has led to humanity’s ostracization from the rest of the galaxy. He enjoys torture, going so far as to use it to toughen up his own sons for their use as his personal army. And several times he uses sexual humiliation to further mark himself as the worst humanity has to offer. Moving from pulp to bad pulp here.
And yet I will not dismiss this book, rather I will spend a bit of time praising it. Raena is a character that is hard to love but easy to follow. She feels broken, but in a very dangerous way because she remains very capable. She is not defined by the pain inflicted on her in the past but it is revenge that keeps her going. There is no heart of gold moment that sneaks in and changes her but she does show a few small acts of mercy (and some that even she knows only remain a mercy in the short term). She remains true to the character we are presented with at the beginning; a deadly enigma that has still has some humanity that people can see in her. She is as fully realized as her advisory is trite.
At first I thought it surprising how much Sloan, the male protagonist, seemed to dominate the story’s tone. Especially in the aforementioned male gaze department as he seemed be providing the visual’s the third person narrator was using throughout. But he is kept in check by the two women that slowly take over the story. He starts off all too sure of himself and willing to take control. He finishes the book firmly in the background as Raena takes back her owns story (though there are plenty of places for him to go in future books).
But toss out any deeper look at characters. That doesn’t help my case. I called this book pulp and damn it if it doesn’t work well in that category. Not the fastest read around and less action packed than its cover blurb would suggest but still fun throughout. And it is built around some galactic history that begs a deeper examination—and refuses to give the reader more than a glimpse (I smell a series!). And like any good pulp read The Dangerous Type is short enough to be enjoyed in a few sittings.
Pulp and as such not entirely memorable. But pretty good at it. That would be the overall summation of this little review.