DAN UNMASKED, by Chris Negron, HarperCollins, July 28, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
Baseball and comic books aren’t two topics I’d generally like to read about, but somehow, in Chris Negron’s Dan Unmasked they work.
Dan Unmasked is the story of best friends Dan and Nate. The two are always together — on the baseball field or devouring their favorite comic book. They practically read each other’s minds.
That all changes when a freak baseball accident lands Nate in a coma and Dan untethered.
Then an idea sparks. It’s up to Dan and his friends to help Nate wake up again — all they have to do is rewrite his story.
As someone who knows nothing about comics and baseball, I came into Dan Unmasked a complete novice. Yet, I never felt lost. Author Chris Negron does an excellent job explaining things without “explaining” them. The games and books vividly unfold.
And while comic books and baseball are important, it’s friendship that is at the heart of Dan Unmasked. While childhood seems so simple from the outside, it’s really not. This heartfelt book explores those complexities.
Dan Unmasked is a fast and engrossing read. I finished it in one sitting. It’s a great crossover for readers with varying interests, and I would have no problem recommending it to a plethora of middle readers.
On a side note, my older brother was a lover of comic books. Like Dan, he kept them in long boxes, pristine within their plastic covers. I never really understood the attraction. My brother died four years ago. But today, I learned perhaps what drew his attention. I know I’m not the target audience for Dan Unmasked, but I appreciated the insights nonetheless. I love books that resonate with readers of all ages.
Chris Negron grew up outside Buffalo, NY, where he spent a huge chunk of his childhood collecting comic books and loving sports. But it was the hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons in friends’ basements that first gave him the dream of one day writing his own stories. That dream kept him company through college at Yale University and years of programming computers for big companies. Dan Unmasked is his debut novel, and he now lives outside Atlanta with his wife, Mary. Visit him at www.chrisnegron.com. Find Chris on Instagram or on Twitter.