Cover Image: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Absolute nightmare fuel. So grateful I was out of
High school but today’s iteration of social
Media came to be.
Was this review helpful?
This was a tough book to read because so many of the characters were not very likable. They’re not meant to be and that’s what makes this book gritty and painful to read. As a parent this book made me question my own beliefs about adolescence and the complicated world that young adults are living in.
Was this review helpful?
I did not finish this book because I did not enjoy it. It did not hold my attention and I ended up reading other books instead.
Was this review helpful?
Just not a fan of this book.  The wording was jumbled, I couldn't keep track of all the characters.  Just not my cup of tea;
Was this review helpful?
This was a tough book to read because so many of the characters were not very likable. They’re not meant to be and that’s what makes this book gritty and painful to read. As a parent this book made me question my own beliefs about adolescence and the complicated world that young adults are living in.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting and well-written novel about American adolescence, Johnson has written a very good debut, one that plumbs the depths of teenage angst, secrets, and repercussions.

Recommended. Looking forward to reading the author's other work.
Was this review helpful?
Very surprised to hear that this was a debut after I finished it! A very accomplished piece. 

Whilst told from multiple perspectives it did not get confusing - each character was well developed and, despite some being unlikeable, maintained my attention.

A scary but poignant comment on social media and the added pressure it brings for teens today. Also a bit terrifying to explore the secret lives the teens manage to keep hidden from their parents.
Was this review helpful?
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth centers around a group of teenagers who attend an elite school in California. This topic fascinated me. I love to slice of life stories.
The story begins with a tragic event occurring to one of the students at the school. The subsequent chapters rotate back and forth between various students and teachers.
The thing that stands out most about the story is that there is no plot to this book AT ALL. It's more just vignettes of various days of various character's lives.  I didn't like any of the characters. All the kids were privileged beyond belief and acted badly. The new English teacher, Molly, was incredibly naive. 
While I did enjoy the 'Great Gatsby' parallels, this book was not for me.
Was this review helpful?
Something about this book makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it's the mismatch between the characters' ages and the contents of the book. And perhaps how on point but so wrong it is.
Was this review helpful?
These characters were not likeable, but they felt vividly real. Beautifully written and incredibly unsettling.
Was this review helpful?
I honestly don't remember requesting this book, I don't remember reading anything from this book and I honestly have no sort of feedback to give.
Was this review helpful?
Lindsey Lee Johnson offered up a sharp glimpse at this culture, but then failed to really do much with it after that. With the short page count, coupled with the kaleidoscope of vignettes with brief connections and overlays with one another like criss-crossing tree branches in a breeze—I never really felt for any of these characters the way that I'd hoped. Maybe, with the better chapters, I felt that I understood them, if not knew them, because I’d just read a 30-40 page spread about them. But because I’d never see them again this intimately for the rest of the novel, I found that I didn’t really care about them or feel invested in their outcomes as I could have. The plot this author offered was a 10, yet the execution fell short of expectations, leaving The Most Dangerous Place on Earth an above-average read.
Was this review helpful?
The Most Dangerous Place begins in the 8th grade, with the story of the event that alters the lives of Cally (a.k.a. Calista), Abigail, Emma, Elisabeth, David, Nick, Ryan, Damon, and Tristan. Following this event, the narrative fast forwards to the junior year of high school, where each of the POV's of the teens involved is shared. All deal with the aftermath in different ways, but the common thread that binds them together is the search for their identity.  I couldn't put The Most Dangerous Place down. It was full of surprises, and each POV felt distinct and very real. I highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
This was definitely an interesting book. It certainly was not what I expected from the blurb when I picked it up on NetGalley eons ago.

High school sucks. I'm only 11 years removed from high school. Myspace was the rage. Facebook was still pretty much limited to college kids. Snapchat? Smartphones? WTF are those...man am I glad that when I was in school, all that stuff wasn't as prevalent as it is today, because I would probably have felt like even more of a loser than I did then.

I felt the ending of the book fell kind of flat, and some of the stories weren't tied together, but overall this story of privileged rich high schoolers and how events that transpired years ago still haunted them was interesting and thought provoking at the very least.
Was this review helpful?
This is recommended for readersof Celeste Ng, but then also classified as YA. Ng’s novels are certainly not YA, so that’s confusiing/misleading.
Was this review helpful?
I feel that this portrayed high school students accurately to an extent, but some scenarios just are not realistic enough to relate to your audience. It just didnt live up to what I wanted it to be
Was this review helpful?
Personally I'd not class this as a YA (tho' highly recommend it for younger readers) because an OA like me can not only enjoy it but bring a maturity & historical perspective. Back in the 1970s a delightful work of satirical fiction first appeared in Northern California as a series in a local newspaper, which was collected under the title The Serial: A Year in the Life of Marin County. The author was Cyra McFadden, who was later to publish a memoir of her own chaotic upbringing by nomadic & somewhat alcoholic parents. Her characters are on the cusp of middle-age, who still think like teenagers themselves even tho' they are already parents of teenaged children–who might be "living with some turkey in a yurt." McFadden's characters may belong to "the Radical Unitarian Church" & subscribe to every New Age practice & belief: EST, Rolfing, T-groups, the Eslan Institute. I found myself reflecting back on The Serial as I read The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, set @ Marin High School, because the characters in The Serial would have been the grandparents of these students. Tho' these young people enjoy every material luxury–their parents bribe them to get high grades with BMWs & unmaxable credit cards–they inhabit the moral & spiritual equivalent of a toxic waste site. The spirituality in The Serial was utterly bogus, but @ least there was a spiritual dimension in the characters lives. These students, their teachers, & their parents believe in nothing @ all except getting them into an elite college.

Despite their nihilistic world, some try to behave decently. Molly Nicoll is a new English teacher from lower middle-class Fresno who wants to help her students develop. Calista Broderick is one of Molly's best students, carrying a load of guilt because when in the 8th grade she took part in online bullying a class geek into jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, riding the entire distance on his bicycle. Calista ends up befriending a group of slackers who seem to be only characters with any authenticity. Abigail Cress is seduced by another teacher, Doug Ellison. When rumors reach her parents, he cowers & she covers for him, telling him: "I wanted you to know . . . I could have told them, & I didn't, & I still could. If you ever try to talk to me again." That was for me the most chilling and revealing moment in the book. All the guilty teacher had to do to redeem his stature as an honorable man would have been to reply to Abigail: "Tell your parents & the principal the whole truth. Your respect & my honor are worth infinitely more than my marriage & my miserable career. I loved every moment we were together, & I shall never regret our relationship." I am not @ all sure that I'd have the courage to do that myself, but I know the right choice wouldn't take long -- speak three sentences.

But the most painful episode for me as a former teacher was when Molly was called to the principal's office for taking too much interest in the welfare of her students. She's told: "There have been some questions raised by certain members of the staff, questions about your pattern of behavior. It seems the tone that has been set in your classroom, I mean as far as student learning objectives are concerned, has not been especially productive." That jargon-laced reprimand is bad enough, but it continues: "These are not your kids. These are your students. Last year they were someone else's, next year they'll be gone. You can't be their mother. You certainly aren't their friend. You are the person who gives them grades. And if you go on caring for them in this way you won't survive." Molly takes the lesson in professional standards to heart. When later when Caly asks for her comments on a very moving confessional essay about her part in having helped drive that student to jumping off the bridge, Molly treats it impersonally as a work of fiction & confines her comments entirely to matters of organization & style. I term what happened to her "professional deformation" & unfortunately it is the norm for "educators."

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth fails to be a complete artistic success. Dividing the story among too many characters made it difficult for me to care enough about any particular one of them, so I never felt I'd really got to know how she would feel. Except for the boy who committed suicide early in the book, none of the boys captured my sympathies at all. It should have bothered me that the outstanding athlete ends up a male prostitute in Los Angeles, but it didn't. And the boy who hired a ringer to take his SAT exam was equally fatuous. (BTW, the ringer's formula for an outstanding essay wouldn't work in real life–examiners really can identify the distinctive features of anonymous essays.) But my strongest reason for recommending this book is what it tells us about American education. Why would parents be content to send their children to schools that teach them to believe in nothing except worldly success and be concerned only that they get accepted by elite universities, bribing them with expensive cars, clothes & accessories to get high grades & score well on entrance exams. Why not instead spend the money to send them to good secondary schools that would provide a moral & spiritual formation, & then let them attend a much less expensive & prestigious public college? It seems counter-intuitive.

I am most grateful to PenguinRandomHouse & NetGalley for a gratis ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This is a well-written, compelling read. Sad, upsetting, hard to look at.....but a look at the reality (for some) of growing up today.
Was this review helpful?
I started and could not finish. This one was not for me.
Was this review helpful?
Oh, this must be purchased for adult readers who love thrillers.
Was this review helpful?