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Book Review

This science fiction book by James Patterson and Ned Rust is the third book in the " Daniel X" series and is published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group.

Daniel X: Demons and Druids is written for kids ages 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Fifteen-year-old Daniel X is a highly intelligent alien with superior strength and speed. He has the ability to create and transform objects, teleport himself from one place to another and travel through time.

Daniel is also an alien hunter, following in his parents' footsteps by tracking down a list of alien criminals on Earth. He ultimately wants to kill No. 1 on "The List of Alien Outlaws on Terra Firma" — The Prayer — the alien who murdered his parents and burned their house to the ground when Daniel was a toddler. Dana, Emma, Willy and Joe are Daniel's childhood friends, who were all killed during an alien invasion on his home planet of Alpar Nok. He conjures up his family and friends with his ability. His parents give him advice, and his friends come to life.

Daniel has traveled to England to find the third most wanted alien on The List: Phosphorius Beta from the volcanic planet Cyndaris. Beta's body is composed of fire; he can manipulate flames and control human minds and bodies. Daniel's loved ones caution him about going after Beta due to the alien's immense power and Daniel's fear of fire, which stems from the day his parents were murdered.

On the way to London, Daniel and his friends stop to play soccer, and afterward, Daniel is too tired to materialize transportation for the group. When an old lady in a van offers them a ride, they gratefully climb in, but Daniel soon realizes that they have been tricked by No. 43 on The List, a shape-shifting alien. The van is a part of the alien's body.

As Daniel and his friends are about to be eaten, he hears his father's voice reminding him that he still has time to take out No. 43. Remembering his ability to turn back time, Daniel returns to moments before the van arrives and then destroys the van. After this incident, Daniel becomes increasingly worried about his friends' safety and vows to never let anything happen to them. His mother reminds him that his friends are already dead, and he can always conjure them up again, but that reminder does little to alleviate Daniel's fears.

In an abandoned London townhouse, Daniel and his friends watch a news report of an explosion and see a black shape with eyes and teeth take form in the fire. They realize that the fire is Beta, and he is responsible for the destruction.

The group decides to split up and investigate the industrial areas of the city where fire is most prevalent. On their way to a metal foundry, Daniel and Emma see a large man following them. They hide, and when he heads back to his apartment, they follow him.

The man turns out to be one of Beta's followers, a human to whom Beta has given the power to project fire from his eyes. (The group dubs him "The Cockney Fireman" due to his thick accent and burn marks on his body.) When the man sees Daniel, he attacks him with fire. Daniel and Emma escape, but Daniel is burned.

The two return to the townhouse, but Daniel finds it hard to rest because he is fearful of his friends being in danger. When he finally falls asleep, he dreams that his father takes him to a place that mimics the conditions on Cyndaris and puts him through a vigorous training. Daniel's father tells him that strong emotions and powerful events can cause stress points in time through which Daniel can travel, but warns him not to abuse this powerful ability to manipulate time.

A few days later, Daniel breaks into The Cockney Fireman's apartment, but The Fireman arrives and causes the room to erupt in flames. The Fireman's body then bursts into flame, and Phosphorius Beta appears. Daniel tricks Beta into falling off the apartment's balcony and into the swimming pool below. Beta disappears into a cloud of steam.

Daniel returns to the metal foundry only to find that Beta is still alive and controlling humans. Daniel sees Beta's followers loading metal parts into a truck, so he turns himself into a steel bar, joins the other pieces of metal and travels to Beta's headquarters, which is an enormous junkyard filled with bonfires and hundreds of Beta's human followers.

Much to Daniel's surprise, Dana shows up, and the two hide in an abandoned car. They see a massive Cyndarian space ship filled with plants and animals being sent to Beta's home world as fuel. When Daniel realizes that Beta has sensed them, he tries to teleport out of the car but is too stressed out to focus.

Beta finds them and sets the car's exterior on fire, which rattles Daniel even more due to his fear of fire. After trying and failing at teleportation and transformation, Daniel tries time travel to escape the burning car. Since emotion is the switch that allows time travel, Daniel kisses Dana.

Just when he thinks he will burn to death, he opens his eyes to find himself lying in front of his childhood home on the same day his parents were killed. When he hears gunshots, he realizes he is too late to save his parents. But Daniel's father has time to warn him about The Prayer and tell him to look around. When he does, Daniel notices a time portal and steps through it, landing in medieval England, where he meets young Arthur Pendragon and his tutor, Merlin the Wizard.

Merlin recognizes Daniel as an alien because Merlin is also an alien hunter from Alpar Nok assigned to Earth. When Merlin shows Daniel his version of The List, Daniel realizes he has traveled back to the time when Beta originally arrived in the British Isles. Merlin takes Daniel to a lake, where they see a flame exit a time portal and disappear into the woods. It's Beta, and Daniel wants to pursue him, but Merlin tells him to be patient and wait for the right moment.

The next day, Merlin takes Arthur and Daniel to London. Once there, the boys see a crowd forming around a sword in a stone. A man announces that whoever pulls the sword out will be king of all England. Daniel takes a closer look and realizes that Merlin has transformed himself into the sword. Telepathically, Merlin tells Daniel to encourage Arthur to try for the sword. At first, Arthur is reluctant, but he gathers his courage and pulls the sword out of the stone.

That night while everyone is celebrating the newly declared king, Daniel follows a man suspected of being in league with Beta to caves just outside of town. Beta is in the caves and has taken the form of a large dragon. As Beta and Daniel battle, Arthur shows up in the cave with Merlin in sword form. Telepathically, Merlin tells Daniel that it is Arthur's job to stop the dragon.

Once again, Daniel helps Arthur be courageous by encouraging him to fight Beta. Beta tries to burn Arthur, but Merlin drops the temperature so Arthur can thrust a frozen sword into Beta's side, killing the dragon. The few sparks that are left of Beta jump out of the dragon's mouth and disappear through a fissure, so Daniel knows it is just a matter of time before Beta rises again.

Merlin explains that Beta has been tormenting human civilizations as some form of fiery beast for thousands of years, and that his alien hunter mentor, Guinevere, built Stonehenge as a machine to stop Beta. While Guinevere never told Merlin how Stonehenge works, she did say that the key to destroying Beta was to look to the sky.

Armed with this knowledge, Daniel returns through the time portal Beta created on the lake and reappears in the junkyard. He finds Dana, who had also been sucked into the time portal. After Daniel leaves a note in the junkyard telling Beta to meet him at Stonehenge the following night, the two escape.

At Stonehenge with his friends and family, Daniel nervously waits for Beta, because he doesn't know how the structure works. Before long, a convoy of trucks driven by Beta's followers arrives. Fire begins to pour out of the trucks, and the flames join into a tall, orange column of fire, which is Beta.

Beta tells Daniel that when he was forced underground during the Dark Ages, he had time to rethink his methods. Instead of burning a few houses himself, he now has a huge, villainous army to do it for him. He now concentrates on sending things from Earth back to Cyndaris as fuel.

As the fight ensues, Daniel is injured with third-degree burns and begins to run out of battle strategies. Then he notices that Stonehenge is glowing red from Beta's heat, and the sky is red with the approaching dawn. He also remembers that Merlin told him to look to the sky.

Suddenly, Daniel realizes that even in its ruined state, Stonehenge is acting like a giant lens focusing the sun's heat into a single intense point. The heat is attracting Beta like a magnet, and his column of fire reaches high above him. With a loud sound like a thunderclap, Beta's flame shoots toward the sun, the one fire that not even he can handle.

As the alien hunter bids good riddance to No. 3 on The List, and Beta's minions struggle to recover from being possessed, Daniel realizes that Stonehenge has finally completed its task: saving England.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Daniel swears on the Bible, on The List and on the house he grew up in that his friends will never be hurt again. When he is trapped in a burning car, Daniel closes his eyes, grits his teeth and says a prayer. There are no details about what he prayed or to whom he prayed.

Daniel is a highly intelligent alien that has the ability to create and transform objects, teleport himself from one place to another and travel through time. Daniel is able to conjure up people who have died and to bring them to life for a time. These family members and friends help Daniel — his parents give him advice, and his friends help him in his quest to kill aliens found on The List.

Authority Roles

Daniel had a loving relationship with his parents before they were killed. In previous books, he would use his abilities to materialize them from his imagination, but now they appear whenever he needs help. When Daniel goes back in time, his parents tell him that they love him and are proud of him, and that he is handsome and brave. Merlin believes in Arthur, and with Daniel's help, encourages Arthur to be fearless.

Profanity/Violence

Mild language used in this book include butthead, dumb, idiot, jerk, creep, bejeezus, bloody, witch and stupid.

Daniel and his friends are almost squeezed to death when they are in a shape-shifting alien's body. Daniel turns back time and conjures up a lump of explosive that he uses to destroy the alien. Dana, who was inside the alien that appeared to be a van, tells Daniel that she remembers the crushing walls, not being able to breathe, being in the worst pain she's ever felt and knowing they were all about to die.

Daniel watches news footage on television that shows a giant factory explosion outside of London that claims hundreds of lives, including children from a nearby daycare center.

Daniel fights a group of vampire-like creatures (aliens who live off the cerebral fluids of other creatures), who hold him and his friends hostage. The head vampire, Vlad, turns into a large bat. Before he eats Daniel's brains, the teenager transforms himself into giant hawk and eats Vlad. Afterward, he is disgusted and compares eating Vlad to accidentally eating a bug while running or riding a bike. When Daniel transforms back to his human shape, he coughs and retches.

Daniel is severely burned several times while fighting Beta and his followers. He describes the pain as shooting through his body like dozens of lightning bolts. When Daniel travels back in time to the moment his parents were killed, he hears the gunshots that killed them. Daniel uses a sword to fight Beta, when the alien is in dragon form, and Arthur kills the dragon with a sword. Merlin heals a man who has been burned and partially eaten by the dragon.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Daniel kisses Dana, a girl he creates from his imagination. Daniel tells Arthur to get used to hanging around lakes because he might find a beautiful lady in one of them.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why is Daniel fearful of fire?
  • What are your fears, and why do you think you have these particular fears?
  • What would help you to feel more secure?
  • How might God help you work through your fears and trust in Him?

  • Why does Daniel become an alien hunter?

  • How do you think his past has influenced him?
  • What significant events have changed your life or the life of someone you know? Explain.
  • What did you or someone else learn from the situation?

  • Daniel believes it may have been his fate to die in a fire.

  • How might believing in fate negate personal responsibility for a person's choices?
  • If someone told you something happened because it "was fate," what would you say to that person?
  • How does free will and choice play into this scenario?

  • What happens when Daniel sees Arthur being bullied by his foster brother?

  • What's your definition of bullying?
  • Who have you bullied into doing something for you?
  • Who has bullied you into doing something for him or her?
  • What was the situation, and is it still a problem?
  • What action steps can you take if you witness bullying, experience it or want to stop bullying others?

  • What are Arthur's thoughts about his ability to kill the dragon or pull the sword out of the stone?

  • Who encourages him to be brave?
  • When you consider goals and dreams for your future, how do you follow God's lead?
  • Which of your goals or dreams seem too difficult to attain?
  • How can we help you accomplish them?

Additional Comments/Notes


This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

10 and up

Author

James Patterson, Ned Rust

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group

Released

On Video

Year Published

2011

Awards

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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