Genre: YA sci fi (super hero, post apocalyptic)
Queer Representation: cis lesbian, trans*
Rating: four stars
Jess is an ordinary child of superhero parents. Powerless herself and searching for something meaningful to do with her life, Jess takes an after school job in a tech lab and (accidentally) ends up working for the ‘villains’, aside the Very Hot Love Interest (and former volleyball star). When villains across the country start going missing, it’s up to Jess and her friends to solve the mystery.
From a diversity standpoint, this book was amazing. From a pacing standpoint, it was…slow. I’m not generally a YA reader so this could just be my lack of familiarity with the genre, but nothing happened in the book until about one hundred pages in. Once things got going, they kept a steady pace, but I almost DNF. The first half of the book is spent with very high school issues – love interests, family, fitting in, clubs, and after school jobs. For a high schooler or junior higher, this is probably welcome ground and the pacing appropriate. For an adult reader, I had a hard time connecting, but I realize I’m not the target audience.
The middle of the book was strong, and I enjoyed the reveals and the romance. The setting as well, with the world, the insights into immigrant Chinese and Vietnamese culture, gave the town a refreshing face lift from the ‘standard’ near-future narrative. High school scenarios were well done and felt very real.
The end action was ‘surprising yet inevitable,’ which is exactly what you want in these types of books. My only real quibble with the book was the very cliche’ villain info plot dump at the end, but that’s in keeping with the genre and feel of the book, so it’s a minor quibble at best.
Overall, this book is a much needed diverse addition to the near-future sci fi genre, and it’s nice to see a super hero who isn’t just some rando white kid. Younger readers will no doubt find the book captivating.