“I want to be all right.”
“Define ‘all right’.”
Juniper Johnson’s life shattered the moment that her spine did. The teenager had initially planned on attending an elite high school for students with superabilities. Instead, she is shipped off to Effective “Defective” Academy – an institution for children with superabilities and disabilities. With the help of her friends, her kind professor, and her less-than-kind mentor, Juniper learns what it means to be disabled, what it means to be a superhero, and what it means to be human.
Overall I loved this book. It was a fun read and it moved at a fast enough pace that I couldn’t stop reading it even though I was exhausted and should have been going to sleep. It made me laugh out loud at several points and I was smiling for most of it. The plot was interesting, being not only about how Juniper reacts to her disability but also trying to find out what was going on with the school. I thought the only thing about no TV was weird (even if you want the students to be kept ignorant there are shows for that) but the end of the book means it all starts to fall into place.
I really liked the worldbuilding, the setting something straight out of a comic book with Ace City and brightly costumed superheroes and then you get this whole other look at disabled superheroes and how they’re treated.
I liked the protagonist and her friends. They were allowed to say ignorant things and learn from them and try to make things right, it didn’t make them bad people. The narrative managed to show them as in the wrong and they had to try and put it right, but they didn’t spent the whole book trying to atone for saying one stupid thing. I think it was good that the abrasiveness of Ryder was balanced by Hakim for Juniper, otherwise I think it would have been IC for her to quit. I wish we had gotten to know some of the other people outside of Skylar, Ryder, Hakim and Juniper though.
On the other hand, there were things I found not as good. The writing was quite simplistic, things were laid out directly in the text so you didn’t really have to think too much. It worked for me, especially sleep deprived, but it might annoy other people. The villains were extremely one dimensional. They were the bad people and no other good parts were allowed. Juniper’s biological family had rejected her, no exceptions, while I would have killed for one of her siblings rebelling and coming to see her. Maybe with the sibling having to deal with their own prejudice. Juniper’s parents sound pretty dreadful but having her father show some sort of regret or love for her wouldn’t have made him any less of a bad person, it just might have made him a little more 3D. Same with Birdwell.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the other reviewers are right, we do need more of this kind of representation in books, especially superhero books, but I wish there had been a little bit more to some parts. Four stars!