I have curled up with many books over the years. Once dusty tomes, these books are now bits and bytes on digital readers or on my computer screen. No matter what the form, books are a part of my life.
"Surfing the Net can be hazardous to your health."
Before the age of Web 2.0 and the onset of Facebook, the Internet was text, then pictures, then the occasional lo-fi RealVideo file or MP3. At some point during all of this, author Jordan Cray decided to write a series of fast-paced murder mysteries for teens set in the wilds of the World Wide Web.
Each title in the Danger.com series is a standalone book with a different narrator. Although the mysteries and circumstances of each case differ, one thing binds them all together: the dangers of the Internet. Whether it's trusting that someone's e-mail address is their real name or entering into the wrong private chat, bad things can--and do--happen as a result of poking around too much online.
In Gemini7, the main character flirts with girls online behind his girlfriend's back and has to deal with the consequences when his online dream girl is anything but. In Firestorm, a rash of bombings is connected with a mysterious online group. In Shiver, the idea of Internet versus real-life personas comes into play as kids are attacked on an isolated mountain.
The ideas behind the books are not so farfetched from the world as we know it. For example, while the version of online dating in Gemini7 is so off-base as to be hilarious--the main character picks up girls in MUDs--the concept has roots in new technologies like online dating sites and anonymous video chats.
The books themselves are fun and ridiculous. Even as YA novels, they're bite-sized and compact, best read in one sitting. The prose isn't fantastic, but for the pulpy genre they represent, they're exciting enough. The fact that two of the five books are written from a female viewpoint is fun change of pace. Many comparable books tend to divert solely to a male protagonist.
Danger.com's depiction of the Internet is wildly antiquated today, but the core message is still there. It is dangerous to implicitly trust people online, just as it's dangerous to make assumptions in social situations. This series is a fun, bite-sized look at the '90s-era Internet as well as the world of the '90s teenager.