September 14, 2012

Sam Hopkins

I’ve been waiting a long time to issue the *cougar alert*. After a few YA titles, Crazy Dangerous has given me the chance. Sam Hopkins and this novel blew my socks off. I read it in four hours straight. Sam is a sixteen year-old preacher’s son who… wait for it… falls in with the wrong crowd. But before you start screaming cliché and predictable, I can tell you that after reading Crazy Dangerous, you will totally get now why that happens to preacher’s kids so often. So Sam falls in with the wrong crowd and all that implies. But one day, his new thug friends harass Jennifer, an innocent bystander that everyone knows is a little—different.  This will sound messed-up until you read it, but it was that moment I knew Sam Hopkins was a Fiction Hero Feature worthy hero, and I had to have him for the blog.

I learned a lot of things from Sam over the course of this novel, and he challenged some prejudices I didn’t even know I had. The last third of the story is a crazy adrenaline rush as Sam does all these, well, seemingly bad things. Yet in the end you understand why, and when I finished the novel, it took about an hour to stop cheering for Sam and hoping that my nieces grow up to marry someone like him. If you’ve never dipped your toes in the YA genre, Sam Hopkins should be all the enticement you need. Check this out.
From Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan:
           Have you ever had a revelation? You know, like, one minute you don’t understand something and the next minute you do. Like maybe you’re playing a video game and you can’t figure out how you’re supposed to climb up on this ledge that’s out of reach and then all of a sudden the answer’s obvious; it just comes to you as if from out of nowhere.
           Well, that’s what happened to me then. When Jeff slapped Jennifer, I had a revelation.
           My revelation went like this: Do right. Fear nothing.
           Before, when I was riding my bike up the hill, worrying about what I was going to tell Jeff, that idea had seemed complicated. Difficult. Even impossible. How could you just stop being afraid? How could you just do what was right when the consequences might be really painful?
           Now, all of a sudden, in a bright brain flash, it came to me.
           I thought: Oh wait, I get it! Do right. Fear nothing. It’s as simple as that!
           Jeff and Harry Mac and Ed P. were still laughing, and Jeff was making noises again as Jennifer cringed in front of him, her face red from his slaps and stained with tears. I could see that Jeff was getting all excited by his own cruelty, that he was planning to hurt her again, to hurt her more.
           “Hey, Jeff!” I said.
           He turned to me, grinning. “What do you want, punk?” he said.
           I thought: Do right. Fear nothing.
           And I slugged him.
           Hey, under the circumstance it was the only thing I could think of. And sure, I knew what was going to happen to me next. But I wasn’t afraid because… Well, because I understood the words on the angel statue. Do right. Fear nothing. It was just that easy.
           Anyway, I slugged Jeff in the face, and it was a good one too—a good, solid punch, not like before when we were up on the ridge. This one came up from my knee and with my whole body turning into it. My knuckles smacked hard into Jeff’s cheek and sent him stumbling backward, his arms pin-wheeling, until he tripped and sat down hard on the ground.
           “Run, Jennifer!” I shouted. “Run now!”

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score: Approximately three-fourths of the things Sam Hopkins does in this novel I would never, ever want my nieces and nephew to do. That said, this is still a book I would want them to read. Most importantly, when it really counts, Sam is FHF material through and through. And the excerpt above only earned him one orange head here. The rest you have to read to see why, but trust me, he earns them.

Wounded Score: This book showed me it’s so much harder than I thought to be a preacher’s kid and be normal. And have normal friends. That’s an orange head right there. The other two he gets shortly after the excerpt above. You’re all smart enough to figure out why.

Softie Score: Sam is gentle with and protective of Jennifer, which is the only time we see a softer side of the teen hero.  And that’s actually a good thing, because if there were too much soft, Sam wouldn’t have been able to be the hero he is.

Stupid Strikes: This isn’t me being mean. This is straight off the first page, so Sam himself owns these orange heads.

          You see that dead guy by the side of the road? Yeah, the one lying in a pool of his own blood with his face all messed up and his clothes all torn and dirty. That’s me. Sam Hopkins. And okay, I’m not really dead, or at least not completely. I’ve just been beaten up. A lot. Badly. Which I guess is a little bit better than dead… although when I think about how I’m going to have to explain this to my parents—frankly, dead doesn’t seem like such a bad alternative.
          Anyway, you’re probably wondering how I got myself into a situation like this. You probably want to hear all about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and—oh yeah—the weird murder and how I found out about it—you’re definitely going to want to hear all about that.
          But first, I have to tell you about the stupidest thing I ever did…

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Swoon Score: If I were still in high-school, Sam would have got a five. But I just can’t do it. My inner puma concolor is not that far out of control, and Sam is not a romantic hero. Crazy Dangerous is not a romance, and you shouldn’t expect that. But there is a girl, and Sam is a teenage boy, so you will relive the angst and awkwardness that was high school. Unless you’re still in or about to get to high school. In which case you should know, it will be okay and you will make it through it. Now back to Sam Hopkins. You really won’t have time to swoon in his two big swoon moments, because you’ll be flying through the pages to find out what’s going to happen next—really.

About Sam Hopkin’s novel Crazy Dangerous (Released May 1, 2012):

Do Right, Fear Nothing.

          Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it’s only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.
          But one day, Sam sees these thugs harassing an eccentric schoolmate named Jennifer. Finding the courage to face the bullies down, Sam loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.
          Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons, the devil, and death. And here’s the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies—prophecies of something terrible that’s going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.
          With no one to believe him, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

Amazon    Barnes & Noble

About Sam Hopkins’s author:

Andrew Klavan was hailed by Stephen King as “the most original novelist of crime and suspense since Cornell Woolrich.” He is the recipient of two Edgar Awards and the author of such adult fiction bestsellers as True Crime and Don’t Say a Word. To learn more about the author or his other works, please visit

In lieu of our normal FHF exclusive from the author, we have a Q&A excerpt graciously provided by Mr. Klavan’s publicist at Thomas Nelson.

Q: You’ve had many successes as a best-selling novelist and screenwriter.  What do you hope to bring to the young adult reading audience with books like this latest release?

A: I like to tell stories that move like lightning—and I like to read stories like that too.  I love video games, love them, and it sometimes seems to me that younger people aren’t being offered books that are as fast and as thrilling and involving as those games. That’s too bad because when a high-octane story comes at you off the pages of a book, it’s different, it’s special—it’s almost magic, because it’s like it’s happening inside your head. You know the character’s thoughts. You get inside his imagination and his story gets into yours. No game or movie can do that—only a book. So I figured if I used the skills I learned in creating thrillers for adults, I’d be able to introduce younger people to a kind of exciting reading experience maybe they haven’t had before or haven’t had enough.

Now for the giveaways:

Surprise! We are giving away two copies of this novel for this feature because publisher Thomas Nelson was kind enough to provide a second. If you’ve lived Sam’s adventure already, please leave me the name of a character that wasn’t used in the excerpt and you are in the $10 B&N or Amazon gift card drawing. Remember that once that character is used, you need to pick another one.

I love how you guys gush and interact about the heroes when you’ve already read them, but PLEASE be extra careful to keep them spoiler-free. Part of the experience of Sam’s story is not knowing what is going to happen to him next. Let the new readers discovering Sam through FHF enjoy that and how Sam earns those gallant heads. KK, now, let’s talk!


  1. happygretSeptember 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    I've already lived Sam's adventure! Loved him. He runs, in secret, to clear his thoughts. [I think that's early enough to not be a spoiler] That was enough for him to earn a place in my heart. He's young enough to be my son, so I'll defer my inner puma concolor and have him not age for 11 years, so he can date my daughter.

    And I'm claiming the name Zoe! Which is why I had to comment first!

    1. Nancy KimballSeptember 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM

      Yep, that's not a spoiler. =) You open the gift card drawing with ZOE. So tell me if you would have scored Sam the same as I did? I'm so curious to know this all the time from other readers.

  2. Lisa GodfreesSeptember 14, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    I sooo want to win a copy of this book because I can't wait to read and review it. Alas, my library doesn't have it, so if I don't win I'm going to have to my it. :) I can't wait to read it. Thanks for keeping the post spoiler free!

  3. happygretSeptember 15, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    I think I'd push up to four heads in the stupid category but still let my girl date him:-) His stupid is the good kind of stupid! Otherwise, spot on!

  4. Diane EstrellaSeptember 15, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    I have not read this book yet and would love to. Great interview and wonderful review. Hope you have a great weekend! :O)

    dianemestrella at gmail dot com

  5. Nancy KimballSeptember 15, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    LISA, chances are doubled this feature because we have two copies!

    GRET, I wanted to give him three and a half but rounded down instead of up. Good to know I was close though and thank you for sharing!

    DIANE, welcome to FHF! I bet you found FHF from the Christian Fiction group on Goodreads. So glad to have you and WELCOME. =)

  6. SusanSeptember 15, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I don't understand how to win, since I haven't read it yet. I am a huge Klavan fan and would love to win.

    1. Nancy KimballSeptember 15, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      It's okay, Susan, you just say you'd like the book. Too easy, right? The folks scrambling for the character names are for the gift card drawing. Welcome to FHF! =)

  7. Laura JacksonSeptember 15, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    I haven't read this book yet, but it looks good!
    Thanks for the chance to win. :)

    laurelprincess12 at gmail dot com

    1. Nancy KimballSeptember 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      Laura, it's really good. You're in the drawing for one of the books. =)

  8. ErynnSeptember 15, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    I LOVE YA!!! Seriously, it's crazy to me how I can three YA books in the time it takes me to read one adult book. I don't know why they're so much better to me. Can't wait to read this one. Especially because I AM a PK. So it'll be interesting to read from this perspective. ENewman(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Nancy KimballSeptember 16, 2012 at 12:00 AM

      Erynn, you got it! =)

  9. stephanie landsemSeptember 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    My two teenage boys love Andrew Klavan's books. They haven't read this one yet - maybe we can all read it together! sblandsem at comcast dot net

  10. Dynamic UnoSeptember 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I would love to read this book! I've read some of Andrew Klavan's other books and have enjoyed them immensely. Thank you for hosting this giveaway. :)

    thomash875 {at} gmail {dot} com

  11. Veronica SternbergSeptember 18, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    I haven't read any of his yet but they sound great!

  12. Nancy KimballSeptember 18, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Stephanie, your boys will love this one. It's awesome!

    Dynamic, thanks for being a fan of Andrew's. This one is great. =)

    Veronica, Crazy Dangerous is a great read. Fast paced, witty, and Sam is a tremendous hero.

    You are all in the drawing for the TWO copies of Crazy Dangerous!

  13. Rose McCauleySeptember 19, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Hi Nancy, I would love to win this book to share with my 3 grandkids--13,12 and 11, the oldest one esp. who will be entering HS next fall. And I am glad to be introduced to your site!

  14. StaceySeptember 23, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Hi Nancy, I found your blog! Happy to read it. It is amazing!! Great job.

  15. Annette O'HareSeptember 26, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Hola Nancy! Great post...and since there's a give away I certainly don't mind saying I wouldn't mind having a copy of this YA! Love ya!

  16. Nancy KimballSeptember 30, 2012 at 11:15 AM


    The two winners of a print copy of Crazy Dangerous are Stephanie Landsem and Stacey (courtesy of

    There were 11 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

    stephanie landsem

    Winner of the $10 Amazon or B&N Giftcard is happygret.

    The rest of you go hit Amazon and our new hero features tomorrow. =)