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Dare Mighty Things

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The Selection meets The 5th Wave in this heart-racing debut duology about a girl competing for a spot on a mysterious mission to the outer reaches of space.

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.

Eighteen-year-old Cassandra Gupta's entire life has been leading up to this--the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she is to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she'll never back down...even if it costs her everything.

377 pages, Hardcover

First published October 10, 2017

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About the author

Heather Kaczynski

2 books174 followers
Heather grew up in the shadow of the Saturn V rocket in Huntsville, Alabama. After spending four years buried in lab reports and memorizing all 206 bones in the human body, she gratefully returned to her first love of books and now works in a library near Marshall Space Flight Center - where she quietly fangirls anytime an astronaut walks in to read the newspaper. She lives with her amateur astronomer/pizza-franchisee husband, their young daughter, and a cat named Circe. Heather is a card-carrying member of the Planetary Society and can neither confirm nor deny the existence of aliens in her books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 401 reviews
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews61.1k followers
November 17, 2017
I have no idea how to go about attempting to explain this book or my thoughts on it. It was...a ride. Rating undecided.
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,562 followers
February 13, 2017
Very interesting concept and plot. It got a little bit strange for me towards the end, but I won't say anything more than that. One thing I absolutely loved were the characters she befriends throughout the competition. They're all so fleshed out. And so much diversity! Our main character is asexual, and I've never read from the point of view of someone who identifies that way. Even if you don't like sci-fi I think you'll enjoy this story!
Profile Image for Heather.
Author 2 books174 followers
March 18, 2016
This is my book! It was tons of fun to write, and I can't wait for you guys to read it.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,688 reviews1,266 followers
October 7, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

This was a YA sci-fi story about a girl competing for the opportunity to go into space.

Cassie was quite a fierce character who was able to shut off her worries and fears and do what needed to be done. She also wasn’t afraid of a little competition, and kept fighting even when things seemed bleak.

The storyline in this was about Cassie competing to go into space on a special mission which we learned more about as the story went along. We got a recurring theme of friendship, and even a little bit of romance, even though the main character called herself asexual at one point.

The ending to this had a massive twist, so it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next book.
6.5 out of 10
Profile Image for mith.
740 reviews256 followers
October 21, 2017
{you can read this review on my blog as well}
Oh boy. I half liked this, half didn’t care for it.

Look, this is really heavily science based. It literally puts the science in science fiction. I think a lot of STEM readers will enjoy this one because it’s clear—well, it is to me—that the author knew what she was talking about and that research had been done well, and done extremely thoroughly. I didn’t understand any of the little science things they talked about.

There’s a few characters in the book that play important roles: Hanna, Mitsuko, Emilio, and Luka. I didn’t care for Hanna at all. I loved Mitsuko, the mom friend of sorts. Emilio was probably my favourite, the jokester, and he added humour and lightness in a setting where that probably not best. Luka, well. I don’t care for him. More on that later.

I liked Cassie. I liked her drive, her need to be the best, and the lowkey ruthlessness that came with it. In no way did I relate to her, and I would never relate to her because she, and all these people, are on a whole other level than lil ol’ me. They’re literally the best of the best apparently, and if from what they even briefly mentioned in the discussions told me anything, I believe it.

Anyway, on another note, Cassie did have a strong voice. Both as the narrator and a participant in this competition. (Speaking of, a comparison to The Selection was probably the worst thing they could have done—this is leagues out of that book, and much, much more thought out.) Despite not really… getting Cassie, I was okay with her. That’s it. I didn't really feel anything else for her, if that makes sense. I sort of tolerated her? Respected her, but I didn't connect whatsoever.

Same went with Luka! I was hoping for… something because the last Luka I read literally broke my heart and I kept getting flashbacks about him. This Luka… jeez. For nearly two thirds of the book, talking to my wall would have been more fun than paying any attention to him. He was there, in a sense, but his presence wasn’t really shown. He hardly said a word. The dude was in first place the entire bloody time, and yet? Nothing he did or said (not-said?), at least from Cassie’s point of view, showed he deserved the position. So, really, it made no sense, and the arc the author took with him, made no sense.

The last third of the book, I just stopped caring. I got bored. The entire novel was pretty slow to me, but by that point, I was just tired. I just wanted it to end. I was waiting for some big finale, but it was just kind of… dull. And it felt rushed too, so I felt a bit cheated.

Overall, this novel will certainly appeal to some, but to me? It was just okay. I appreciated the amount of, well, everything that went into it, because, boy, did a lot go into it, but I just don’t think it was the right novel for me. 3 stars!
I saw "meets the Selection" and was like, oh god no not again, but then "instead of competing for a prince/kingdom, a brilliant Indian-American girl competes to win the last astronaut slot for an experimental mission into space" and all was right in the world again.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,691 reviews856 followers
August 17, 2022
I put off reading Dare Mighty Things because it was a competition about winning the chance to be the first teen to go to space. And space? It used to be an instant hard pass for me. Something has happened this year though that has me slowly reaching for science fiction more and more. To the point where space cadet stories have become a niche buzzword of mine. There were a lot of things going against my enjoyment of the story but it ended up an instant new favourite.

I could not help but fall in love with our protagonist, Cassie. She was unapologetically ambitious and fierce. She proved herself over and over again and pulled herself through the trials, sometimes on nothing more than her sharp intelligence and unshakeable determination. She hid a funny, sweet and loyal side of herself beneath a layer of awkwardness, cynicism and introversion. If that ain’t relatable.

Her blossoming friendships were definitely the highlight of the book, though. I love reading about female friendship, and Mitsuko was such a gorgeous mum friend to Cassie. I adored every minute of her and Cassie's interactions. I mean, what more do I need than two fierce, feminist, brilliantly intelligent queer women of colour breaking down their barriers and learning to be vulnerable? Don’t mind me crying quietly in the corner. Emilio was also a highlight. He was the personification of sunshine and made me smile in every single scene. His ability to cut to the heart of a conversation and make people feel good about themselves was just gorgeous. I want five hundred stories about these three best friends. Please and thank you.

The plot was also wow, such a ride. I love books about government conspiracies and training montages and psychological manipulation, where you have to try and figure out just how much is actually real. The nuggets of information about the outside world were intriguing to the point where I almost wanted more but I loved how grounded this slightly futuristic setting felt as a whole.

This book is known for its twists and turns so I will comment that I guessed them quite early on myself. It was definitely not the fault of the author though. The suspense is palpable throughout the story and the atmosphere she created made everything seem slightly unreal - like everyone was waiting for some sort of aha! moment to send their worlds crashing at their feet - was impressive. It was definitely the flaw in my brain that makes me constantly need to solve the puzzle as quickly as possible which made me figure out the reveals.

This next section necessitates some minor spoilers about the romance.
What about the asexual representation? I wasn’t too disappointed, thank God. At eighteen, Cassie is beginning to think that the label asexual fits her. She finds thinking about sex uncomfortable and has never been attracted to anyone of any gender. I loved how she discusses this with Mitsukoa and how it made her aware she doesn't know what it is like to be sexually attracted to people. The mental trip she has the next day as she imagines what it is like for allosexuals and tries to notice people’s attractiveness was so realistic. I loved that she even commented about the fact she was uncomfortable people might think that way about her.

The fact that Cassie has a minor love interest wouldn’t have bothered me if - and I stress the if - the book addressed the difference between asexuality and aromanticism or even if Cassie decided to kiss Luka for any other reason than she wanted to experiment. I understand that asexuality is a spectrum; not all asexuals are repulsed or uninterested in kissing. The fact Cassie specifically described being sex-repulsed but still felt the need to experiment bothered me. This could have been so easily avoided if she said it was because of Luka specifically or grey-asexuality or demisexuality had been addressed. Labels are not always constant and growing into the right ones (if you want any at all) is an important part of the queer experience. However, this was not a narrative about labels or even coming out. The scene, therefore, felt too familiar to amisic tropes. This may represent some people on the ace spectrum. If it does, I am so happy for those people! It was a tad disappointed for me though.

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Cassandra (mc) is asexual & Indian-American; Mitsuko (sc) is bisexual & Japanese-American; Emilio (sc) is Latinx; BIPOC scs.

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Profile Image for Emmy Neal.
561 reviews132 followers
November 29, 2016
Full disclosure, Heather is my critique partner--this review will become less vague when the book goes to print! I've read DARE MIGHTY THINGS through many drafts, and fallen in love with all of these characters. (Even the ones I hate, I love. It's crippling.) She has a great voice, strong character arcs, and awesome suspense--but my favorite part about Cassie's story is how hard she works for what she wants.

Cassie is an Indian-American intern at NASA when her boss recommends her to a classified space program. They've perfected pioneer space technology--with one small hitch: adult brains are too rigid to work with the spaceship's Artificial Intelligence. The best and brightest teens from around the country are competing for a single seat, and Cassie's determined to beat them all. Astronaut training is rigorous, but when the tests they undergo start to become deadly, Cassie realizes someone would rather see them dead than in space.

This book is the love child of YA space opera and survivalist novels--astronaut boot camp is like army boot camp in anti-gravity. There's a great slow-burn romantic subplot that I love, because the characters are so authentically teenagers. Awkward and sweet and at times standoffish, but also with priorities beyond finding out if some guy thinks you're pretty. Cassie isn't going to let anyone get between her and the stars.

Anyone who liked The Selection, Illuminae, or Cinder will find a million things to love about DARE MIGHTY THINGS. Futuristic tech and friendships, pioneer spaceships and conspiracy theories--it's everything I love in science fiction.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,371 reviews1,833 followers
October 16, 2017
"If we're old enough for space, we should be old enough for a drink."

Wowzer. DARE MIGHTY THINGS was a mighty surprise.

"Ten points to Gryffindor."
"How old are you? My grandma read Harry Potter."

Set in the not-so-distant future, Kaczynski establishes a world not unlike ours.

Genetic engineering used to be a moral gray area, but now that infertility was becoming a worldwide epidemic, and in vitro was performed almost as a matter of course, the laws had gone lax. Geneering was safe and effective, and if you were already paying a hefty price tag to have a baby -- maybe the only one you'd ever have -- might as well make sure it's the best little embryo it could be.

Cassandra Gupta, who guides us through this journey, is part of what is oft-referred to as the first major wave of "designer babies". She has traits specifically geared towards athleticism and intelligence, better than average hearing, eyesight, endurance, and a potentially longer lifespan than that of her parents. But even with her specifically chosen genes, that didn't make her any more beautiful (thank god) or socially adept (which I loved). Just more capable; or, rather, with the potential to be so.

"Be good. Try hard. Make -- try to make some friends, huh?"
"It's not summer camp, Mom."

Qualifying for a top secret, experimental, program into space, Cassie is in competition with -- initially -- sixtytwo other candidates between the ages of eighteen and twentyfive. It's basically THE HUNGER GAMES without the hunger or death. So.. nothing like it? Anyway, most of the book is spent undergoing intense stressful situations, mathematics and astrophysics, honing survival skills, all to prepare for a mission they know nothing about. But potentially being the youngest person ever to go to space is knowledge enough for Cassie.

"I don't care if you bring food or boys or bazookas into your room, as long as you aren't selling government secrets."

There are a host of diverse (in all manner of speaking) characters in DARE MIGHTY THINGS. The brightest minds from all over the world. And Cassie, the book's only POV, was a delight. She was focused, driven, awkward, and initially unable to empathize with those around her; too focused on wanting to succeed. Watching her grow, watching her make the first friends of her life, watching her learn to care, was so wonderful. And the variety of friends she makes are pretty great, too.

"I don't mold my identity to make others more comfortable. I'm just myself. I make goals and I go after them. If that puts people off, that's on them, not me."

I don't really have much more to say. Or, rather, that I feel I can say. There's a lot of complex scenarios and calculations and preparation that these kids, teens, young adults, go through. But I was never bored, I never skimmed, I thought the pacing was fantastic, and the scenarios changed just enough to thrill and keep you on the edge of your seat as we learn alongside them what this mission really is about.

"And why, for God's sake, are they recruiting from high schools? Lola, you're, like, what? Eighteen?"
"Barely, yeah."
"See? Who does that? There's gotta be a reason, that's all I'm saying. Not that I'm not grateful for the opportunity, obviously. Just in case you all are listening, I AM VERY GRATEFUL TO NASA."

Kacynski's debut (debut!) was funny, heartfelt, interesting, complex, surprising.. because oh yeah, that ending? I had some suspicions but wow. Well done. I did not see some of that coming. I thought this was a standalone but I guess that's not correct now, is it? I mean.. it better not be.

I wanted to be a pioneer. To dare mighty things. What was out there would forever call to me, and the things I could do for history were more important than my one little life.

There's been some pretty brilliant YA scifi offerings lately. From the smash hit of the Illuminae Files series to this year's DEFY THE STARS (a personal favourite of mine). You can add this one to the list, too. It might be less action and intensity. But it's a slowburn with great characters and a very minimal, to non-existent, romance.. meaning we aren't bogged down by triangles and preoccupation with handsome boys. Cassie is a strong, determined, young lady who, despite her social stumbles, is a great smart role model for girls her age or younger. She dreams big, succeeds, fails, and is made better by friends and family. Who wouldn't want to root for her? I know I did.

4.25 "I know this is a life-or-death situation, which is why I am not going to make any jokes about staring at your ass" stars

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Profile Image for i..
331 reviews33 followers
October 26, 2017
Can you imagine being given the chance to go on a (secret) mission to space? Cassandra Gupta couldn't believe it when she was chosen to be part of a selected group. She was young, intelligent, fit and with a will strong enough to propel her into space without a spaceship.

This is the way Heather Kaczynski's first novel begins and YA Sci-fi fans will find it thoroughly entertaining . I was unable to put it down , I wanted to know who the selected ones were and I just couldn't wait to find out what the mission was about.

There is a twist at the end you may (not) see coming and it made me eager to read the second part of this duology. I 'll have to wait until next year, though!

Highly recommended to fans of the genre.

Profile Image for Inge.
346 reviews881 followers
September 27, 2017
3.5 stars

I requested Dare Mighty Things for a lot of reasons. First of all, I'm a really big fan of space stories, and putting that in a competition setting is bound to get me excited. While it wasn't a perfect story, there were still a lot of things to be enjoyed.

In a world where genetic engineering is a common happenstance, Cassandra Gupta receives an invitation to take part in a top secret competition. The prize? Becoming a pioneer astronaut in an even more top secret NASA space mission. Our contestants will be tested and pushed to their limits in every which way imaginable. Cassie certainly didn't come here to make friends, but she'll soon find out that some people are just determined to wiggle their way into your heart.

This book was a ride from start to finish. Because of its super secret nature, the entire project feels a bit shady, despite it being organised by NASA. It leaves you wondering how many boundaries can be pushed for the purpose of science. Cassie certainly finds out about a bunch of these - both physical and emotional, personal and general. I thought this was the most exciting and interesting part of the whole story, and I loved reading about their tests e.g. underwater, in the Vomit Comet, etc.

Cassie, while a bit distant, was a strong and determined main character. I also really loved the side characters, especially Emilio - the human equivalent of a cupcake - and Mitsuko - the human equivalent of a chilli pepper, and probably my favourite character of them all. Luka remained a mystery for the biggest part of the book, which kept him interesting.

Despite the interesting plot, the story kind of lagged at times, making it feel longer than it actually was. While every chapter felt necessary to the advancement of the story, I sometimes just wanted to get on with it and get to the good stuff. It feels a bit dense sometimes.

Nevertheless, I did really enjoy this book. It sets things up nicely for a series, and I can't wait to see where the story goes.

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for providing me with a copy
Profile Image for Anna Priemaza.
Author 3 books184 followers
August 15, 2016


I have been so desperate to read this book, and it did not disappoint! Astronauts! Space! Brilliant, ambitious teen girls! Competition! Diversity! Top secret missions! Friendship! Sabotage! Space! Astronauts! Space!

It was everything I wanted it to be, and now I'm beyond desperate to read book 2! TIME GO FASTER, PLEASE!!!
Profile Image for Ashley.
566 reviews61 followers
April 8, 2019
I think this is probably more of a 4.5.

I love the concept. I love the characters. The ending was amazing. Not the most shocking but definitely had some wow factor.

I'm itching to read the sequel asap and have to unfortunately wait for the audiobook from the library. *cries*

Would def recommend if you're into:
- mysterious space expeditions
- near future sci-fi
- a-spec mc
- competitions!!!
Profile Image for ellie.
542 reviews166 followers
December 27, 2017
”I’m so curious about the universe-we know so little and I want to learn it all, see it all-there are so many wonders out there that humans have never dreamed possible. I want to help us get there. I want to discover. I want to know. Don’t you?”

so this book is about a smart asexual desi girl competing with other super intelligent teens to go into space. DID I MENTION THERES SPACE? by the way there’s also SPACE !!! This review is going to be a mess I’m sorry I’m not feeling very organized rn and I’m going to thought dump !!

I felt, suddenly, how small I was. Could almost feel Earth beneath my feet spinning freely, untethered to anything but laws of physics. Vulnerable. Alone.

honestly. okay. so she’s half Indian, but I connected with her a lot because she felt like an Indian American to me (as I am) and most of the Desi girls I meet are exactly like her. We’re a mix of two cultures, but we hold on to the things we can. Like the Ganesh necklace?? I almost teared up at such a little thing but I never thought we’d see mentions of Hindu gods so casually in a book that’s not about it you know? She’s just a teenager but this is her culture and it was also me and I was just like I FEEL UNDERSTOOD and ive barely ever felt that in regards to Desi culture

”Now you listen. You will be safe. You will go into the universe and you will come home to us again. Understood?

anyway so let’s talk about the one complaint I have: the romance. listen. I know she is deserving of love but it just took away from this amazing competition and plot you know? And also he was like So Brooding and Silent and Quiet and I was like. Uhh. she’s like strong and confident and is always questioning why people are attracted to others (the whole ace thing ofc) but around him she’s like always flustered and every single conversation he’s like “do you ever feel like a stranger even around people who know you” or like “do you ever feel alone even when surrounded by others” like dude we get it you’re emo

[scene: me, reading this book]
He talks about being different than other people. Cassie touches his shoulder. They look into each other eyes.
me: *deep sigh*
me: *puts book down*
me: *deep breath*
me: I’ll allow it I guess

I don’t knooow. I think the reveal at the end made it kind of better? Bc that was kinda really freaking cool. I like surprise twists!!! Especially when they’re in space. I swear to god, this is the most stupid thing ever but I couldn’t stop grinning throughout the last half of the book. Every page I turned i just was smiling harder because it was, like, SPACE!! I was giddy with excitement even tho I’m like never gonna experience that? It’s just like AMAZING. the spaceship went WHOOSH and my heart went WHOOSH.

”I feel like I’m dying. I mean, not just regular dying. I mean like how a star dies, imploding in on itself until it tears a hole in space-time and starts consuming light itself. That’s how hungry I am.”

anyways I Loved the diversity in this oh my gosh all the little quirks and details, the little scene with the hijabi girl who nods at impressed Cassie. My favorite part (other than the brief space section) was definitely how smart the girls were. They were unapologetically multi-faceted, with their own lives and yet passionate about what they were there for, you know? Like Suko was so into looking good all the time but she was a major contender for the competition. and I LOOOOVED the m/f platonic friendships, so wholesome and normalizes that boys and girls can just be friends. And I kind of really grew attached to Hanna and I will sue someone if we don’t see her again. that’s all.

”All of those women mean something to me. I mean, they each had to pave their own way. Even when it was dangerous and scary and difficult, they did it anyway. It’s because of them that I can be here right now, because they fought to be taken seriously and treated equally. If I was afraid when they were brave, I’m not honoring their memories, am I? I’m not afraid. They did it. So can I.”

by the way. I genuinely loved Cassie as a character. She made it to my top 10 female characters of all time now, and like, that’s a big deal? I just related to her a lot. how she understood her limits but also was determined to do the best she can. I feel like we always frown at people, especially woman, being confident in their abilities and talents, but she OWNED it. she struck to her beliefs and was just so like kick-ass, but using her brain? She didn’t really kick anyone’s ass.

”Nice to meet you, Cassie Gupta. You on board with all this crazy space shit?”
“Cool. Me too.”

she was also soft when she wanted to be, and it wasn’t like grudgingly showing emotion or whatever but genuine warmth and caring for the people she’d gotten use to and that just felt so natural and real to me and I just really want her to see all the stars, you know? she’ll see the stars for me. and I’ll get to read about that. and for now, that’s kinda enough.
Profile Image for Suzan.
559 reviews
June 11, 2019
Kitabi sevdim mi sevmedim mi emin olamadım Son 6 finalist kitabına çok benzettim keşke önce bunu oksaymisim daha çok severdim bence 🙄 Tam bir giriş kitabıydı bazi yerlerinde sıkıldım çünkü aşk geri plandaydi,yaratılan dünya güzeldi Luka tatlıydı sonu güzeldi ufakta olsa bomba patladı ama ne biliyim birşey eksikti yani ha gayret şimdi akıp gidecek dedim çık olmadı sanki 🤔 Cass aferin kız aptallık etmedi önüne baktı geçti ben yapamazdım şahsen 😝birde kapak daha güzel olabilirdi sönük kalmış Serap abla hediye etmese varlığından haberdar değildim teşekkür ederim kocaman öpüyorum seni 😍😘
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,115 reviews1,010 followers
September 28, 2017
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


This was so close to being a 5-star from me, and frankly, I could have used one. But alas. It was still incredibly strong and I am giddy excited for the sequel, so that's good news.

Most of the book is about the competition that Cassie must compete in in order to go to space. Yes, I suppose this had the potential to be... not exciting? But no no, it was exciting! So much so! The author develops the plot and characters so well that it's impossible to not be on the edge of your seat while reading. Because of the secretive nature of the story, there is always new information and twists coming into play. The cast of characters is quite diverse, too, which is great! There's also some open discussion about sexuality, and it is a learning experience for the main character.

Speaking of, Cassie goes through a lot of growth during the book. And she's by no means a perfect character at the start. She can be judgy and distant, and it's nice that while she's incredibly smart and driven, she also has flaws. Not only does Cassie grow, but we see other characters growing and changing a lot too.

Even though this first installment is light on the actual space adventuring, there was plenty of mention of space related stuff as well as interesting scientific technology and such. So if you're here for the sci-fi aspects, it is there! The author even included some little nuggets about our current knowledge of space travel!

My one issue with this book? The end. It was... different. I don't even know what else to say because obviously it'd be a big old spoiler. It was one of the most jarring endings I have read, and I still can't quite decide on how I felt about it. I really don't think I'll be able to form an opinion until I see where the next book goes.

Will I read the Sequel? Oh hell yes. May I have it now, please and thank you?

Bottom Line: This was a huge win for me, and would have been five stars if not for my iffy feelings about the ending. If you like sci-fi, grab this book. Hell, even if you don't, this is a good one to start with.

*Copy provided for review
Profile Image for Daniela (Only If For A Page).
179 reviews87 followers
January 7, 2020
A little bit like Divergent, but it's a space training.

This was awesome. Dare Mighty Things takes place in a relatively near future and we follow Cassandra Gupta, aged 18, who is the youngest person participating in a space training competition and who is determined to win the only spot in a new secret mission.

The cast of characters is very diverse: Cassandra herself is half-Indian and asexual and there are other POC and queer characters. I also really appreciated that Cass was vegetarian and the rep of that was great - it wasn't made a big deal and it was only mentioned when the situation called for it (just as I like it, but unfortunately, it's quite rare in books because usually the person is made out to be a weirdo/hippie/obnoxious, etc.) Another point in her favor was that she loved music and used it as an advantage in some of the mental exercises.

So the meat of the story (pun intended) was the competition and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The tests were intense but civil. To her surprise, Cass found herself having some friends for the first time in her life and I really enjoyed getting to know her competitors (hi Emilio and Mitsuko) a bit better as well. And also, Luka. The mysterious guy, who stays in the first place no matter what but doesn't really make friends.

In the second part, things get darker and more exciting as the launch of the mission approaches. And the cliffhanger in the end? I can't wait to read the sequel because "whoa".

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Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,146 reviews249 followers
October 8, 2017
��The universe seemed open and waiting for me, and I was ready to meet it."

I’ve really gotten more into sci-fi this year, and I was very excited to read Dare Mighty Things! And while it didn’t blow me away like some other reads have, it did not disappoint me either. We follow Cassie Gupta as she competes for a chance to fulfill her life’s dream and go on what may be her only chance at an actual space mission. But as Cassie and the competitors vie for the single spot on the mission, they face physical and mental challenges that will push them to the edge.

Things I Liked
The competition was great! We get really purposeful challenges and tests that help set up what to expect in the future and show the character’s skills.

I really loved the banter and camaraderie that we see develop between some of the competitors. It added some great levity to the more intense training scenes, and I really loved seeing friendships develop between the characters. Emilio was one of my favorites.

I liked Cassie as a MC. She was so smart, driven, and brave. She really loves space and we see her dedication, to not only the program and her studies, but her dedication to her dreams. It was really admirable! Cassie also identifies as asexual, and explicitly says so in the text. It was great to see such a severely underrepresented sexuality in the story! (Mitsuko, Cassie’s roommate and friend identifies as bi!)

Things I Didn’t Like
Pacing was a little too fast, and created a lack of tension in who would win the competition. Because we only really knew a few of the characters, it was obvious who would be selected for the mission.

There was some clunky and awkward scenes. They felt a little rushed and the dialogue was stilted, specifically in the scene where Cassia and Mitsuko talk about their respective sexual identities. The conversation felt forced and removed from the overall story.

Hanna wasn’t a bad character by any means, but I just didn’t connect with her and it seemed that she got more slack than the other competitors and that kinda bugged me.

Overall, Dare Mighty Things is a fun sci-fi story, that sets up the sequel to have more space elements (always a win) and higher stakes! I’m excited to see the relationships develop further, and I know will get some awesome worldbuilding! I think I’m most excited about what Dare Mighty Things promises for the future, and a book leaving me wanting more is always a win.

I received a copy of the book from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Scott Reintgen.
Author 14 books1,057 followers
June 6, 2017
Where to begin?! I think I have to start with the SCIENCE. That aspect of the world building in this book really stood out to me as a writer and reader of science fiction. First, there's the solid, believable, and thorough foundation that Kaczynski creates... but it's also to her credit that she invites us into the beyond. There are mysteries, at the edges of what we know as humans, that Dare Mighty Things welcomes us to explore.

The characters, too, are worth hanging a hat on. This book shows off the kind of cast that a reader can eventually figure out (much to our satisfaction). It's always rewarding when you know EXACTLY what a character's about to say before they say it. Emilio and Mitsuko were my two favorite, and obviously Cass is a vastly entertaining choice for our narrator.

I can't speak too much about the twists and turns, wanting to avoid spoilers, but the final aspect that I really found myself admiring was the plot. Plenty of twists, plenty of turns, and plenty of a-ha moments for the absurdly close reader to detect just before the reveal comes.

Can't recommend this one more!
4 reviews2 followers
October 19, 2016
Do you like space? Do you like brilliant, driven teens? Do you like twists and complex choices and hard-won friendships?

Because if you do, you need to read DARE MIGHTY THINGS the moment you can get your hands on it. This book had me up late into the night, hastily flipping pages, wondering where the twists would take me, guessing at the decisions Cassie had to make. I loved every moment of it.

And this cast of teens, my goodness, they are wonderful. Every single one is multi-faceted and intelligent and striving for their own greatness. They are simultaneously allies and enemies and every moment is all the more intense thanks to those complexities.

This book was different in all the right ways. The competition at the core of the story isn't about falling in love or killing your opponents. It's a competition won with cunning and determination and brains, not brawn.

In short, DARE MIGHTY THINGS was a delight. Thank goodness there will be a Book 2, because I would read about Cassie forever. And then some.
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,048 reviews159 followers
January 6, 2019
When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew this was the type of book I'd love. And I was right! Dare Mighty Things had all the things I love in my favorite genre, sci-fi. NASA, astronauts, astronaut training, space, spaceships, a competition, science!!

About halfway through, I knew I'd need the next book as soon as I finished so jumped online and ordered One Giant Leap so I'd have it within 2 days.

The main character was extremely likeable, along with the friends she makes during the competition/astronaut training. I hope they are all included in the sequel because the bond they formed was the thing I adore about storylines like this. I liked that there were no evil people, as this is the type of world I want to believe in.

And that ending!!? That final twist was definitely something I didn't see coming and I can't wait to see where this series goes next. Thank goodness I have One Giant Leap already! Well done!!
Profile Image for Madison.
1,065 reviews58 followers
July 14, 2017
From the very beginning this book was completely exciting. I had a huge grin of anticipation that I couldn't wipe off my face - but maybe that was more to do with Cassandra's smarts and humour. It's so much fun hanging with someone who is clever, knows she is clever, and isn't afraid to correct her internship boss's math in front all his coworkers - go girl.

Cassandra knows she was born for something great - it's expected of a child who was one of the first genetically engineered babies. When she is offered a place in a competition for a highly secretive NASA mission, Cass jumps at the opportunity. Leaving her family behind, Cass spends the next few months being tested to her limits and trying to outclass the other competitors. But no amount of physical or mental aptitude can prepare her for the challenges she will face, including making friends amongst her competitors. But the greatest challenge will be revealed if she makes it to the top spot and discovers what this mission aims to achieve.

Dare Mighty Things is set 26(ish) years in the future. Cass' world largely resembles our own. Most things appear to have remained the same, despite increased weather disasters and decreased fertility levels. There also hasn't been a space exploration - no funding - for years, which is why Cassandra is surprised to be asked to join a competition that offers a chance to travel into space.

Cass is a highly focused character. Yes, her genetics have been engineered to maximise her physical endurance and mental aptitude, but Cass also works really hard to be the best. At times she can sound a little stuck up -'I know I'm the best', but it is refreshing for a character to embrace her strengths and be proud of them. Cass also understands her weakness - social situations. Entering the competition, living and working amongst the competitors gives her the first chance to really make friends.

There are so many diverse characters in this book. They are all such strong, clear personalities, so it was really easy to get to know them as Cass does. The competitors are from around the world and Cass herself is an Indian-American and identifies as asexual.

The majority of the book is spent on the competition, which I really liked. There were plenty of challenges, from the first physical test - a three hour marathon -, to classes on physics, new technology to discover, wilderness survival challenges, and of course the mental stress of it all. I found it all really interesting and there was plenty of tension and action to keep the pace of the story moving.

The ending also throws out a huge twist that I did not see coming. I thought something would happen, but I didn't predict that! I think it is going to make the second book in this series really interesting and I can't wait to read it.

Through her journey Cass learns a lot about herself and far more than she could ever have imagined about her universe. There is also the slightest possibility (maybe?) of romance (but that ending?!)...guess I'll just have to wait for book two to find out what happens next.

Dare Mighty Things is an exciting science-fiction adventure that provides a wonderful introduction to a series that promises to be full of surprises.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library.
Profile Image for Laura (thebookcorps).
834 reviews170 followers
December 8, 2017
Thank you very much to HarperCollins for providing a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Dare Mighty Things is an extraordinary debut that features an Indian-American asexual protagonist in the fight of her life for the slim opportunity to go to space. Heather Kaczynski’s novel is a thrilling tale of ambition, power and deadly secrets that will change the course of human history.

Dare Mighty Things was chock full of suspense and my eyes were glued to the page, frantically reading, determined to find out just what the mission was exactly about. I love stories about space and add to that a classified mission, military secrets, and a chance to travel the universe? Um, sign me up!

Kaczynski’s writing was a little elementary, but it is very easy to get swept up into the story and assimilate to her writing style. I actually believe that her straightforward writing perfectly matched the tone of the novel as the book deals with scientific fact and theories (that I assume are correct). Nevertheless, I was impressed by Kaczynski’s inclusion of these fascinating astronomical (?) theories. (Clearly, I don’t understand anything about science.)

The plot was fast paced and didn’t let up for a second. I was so intrigued by what Kaczynski has created here, and I felt as though a plot twist was coming the entire time I was reading this book. It takes skill to sustain that fear and worry in a reader, especially over the course of 300 pages. I can’t wait to read the sequel now.

I thought Cassie, the protagonist, was just amazing and such a wonderful role model. She is incredibly ambitious and will stop at nothing to secure a spot in this prestigious trip, and I’m so thankful that a character like Cassie even exists. So often, girls in YA don’t focus on the same things Cassie does: a future, a career, the chance of a lifetime. I don’t mean to bag other YA girls because many of them are badass, but so many of them also stem from fantasy books. When I think of contemporary YA girls, most of them focus on the romance aspect of their lives, and that is totally their prerogative; I just want to see a few more teen girls focus on themselves too. You don’t read many books with girls like Cassie – girls who work extremely hard to make something of themselves – and I desperately want more.

Cassie is also asexual – or at the very least relates quite strongly to asexuality – and I absolutely love that different identities are taking YA by storm. Straight white characters are no longer the norm and Kaczynski understands this. Almost all of the secondary characters are POC, including Cassie, which was fantastic to see. Cassie’s friends, Emilio and Mitsuko, were great characters – they act like Cassie’s older brother and sister and try to make Cassie feel welcome, while also reminding her of the benefits of friendship. Cassie, who has never had a friend in her life, is a little awkward, but she emerges from her shell with the help of her two friends.

Dare Mighty Things was one of the most fascinating YA books I’ve read this year. The plot was complex but engaging, the characters all geniuses but heartfelt, and the writing straightforward but works to move the plot along. Also … that ending?!?! Holy crap, I need the next book ASAP!

Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,037 followers
May 18, 2017
I'm here for asexual heroines!

Sadly, I wasn't wowed with the book for several reasons. This book was written to appeal the younger audience, so if you're 13, I think you might enjoy this very much. Heroine's voice was too childish for me, despite her being very mature for her age. The other reason was simple. A lot of time was spent on planning for space travelling and there was so little actual space.
Profile Image for prim☽.
109 reviews42 followers
June 10, 2019
➸ 4 stars

Space . Friendship . Diversity . Competition .

♡ Cassie (half Indian-American), the main protagonist is very competitive, smart and doesn't give a shit about making friends but yet we see her grow as a character throughout the book.
♡ Characters are very well written especially Cassie's friends (Emilio and Mitsuko are my favourite) and there's a lot of diversity since competitors are from all around the world LOVE IT!
♡ The competition involves about space travel is very interesting.
(If you enjoy hunger games, you may enjoy this book but don't expect romance like Katniss and Peeta)

✑ Romance part is not necessary.
✑ Asexual representation is not strong enough.

Favourite quote:
"You do not apologize to anyone for following your heart."
Profile Image for BriaKnits & Reads.
404 reviews2 followers
November 6, 2018
I picked this book up because it was highly recommended from a fellow bookworm and I am super happy that I did.

Awesome plot. Amazing characters, especially the main character, Cassandra Gupta. She became one of my favorite fictional heroines..EVER!

Fans of stories similar to the Hunger Games and Divergent will love this read. Competing individuals; everyone man/woman for themselves. This is such an adventurous read that will keep you on your toes and wanting more.
I highly recommend this book.

Happy Reading!!!
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