“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.
It’s #ownvoices for the character in a wheelchair representation.
It’s soooo good! Like seriously. This is a self-published book and it’s not well-known. I’m so grateful to Rachel that she reviewed it on her blog, as I would most probably not have found out about it if it were not for her.
I loved the writing. It’s relatively fast-paced and builds up a lot of momentum. It’s a really fun book to read, and has quite a lot of humour interspersed in it.
Juniper is an amazing main character. After her accident, which results in her having to use a wheelchair, she has to confront her own ableism and realise that her dreams are not over, just because she is disabled. This is a world that values being abled so much, and thus disabilities lead to superheroes being hidden from society. She has to relearn how to use her ability, and finds out who are true friends.
I’d like to mention, Hakim, who can fly. She was one of my favourite characters in this book. She has asthma, and I thought the representation was great. It was amazing to read about a superhero who has asthma. Representation matters! She’s an amazing teacher, and does not only spend her time supporting her students, but also supports Ryder, another teacher, who is Juniper’s mentor.
I loved how friendships and mentorships were centered in this book. There’s also a huge emphasis on found family.
The superpowers are so cool. There are some that are well-known from other superhero stories (e.g. flight, telekinesis), and others that are more unique to this universe (e.g. controlling the emotions of people through song).
Almost all the main characters are disabled in this book. There were a lot of in-depth discussions on disability and ableism, and how different disabilities affect the superpowers that the person had. The book also touched on how disabled people themselves want to define themselves, how abled people think disabled people should describe themselves, and how abled people think that they know what is better for disabled people.
Racism is also touched-upon. The students have to undertake a skin colour test, which determines whether they will be classified as supervillains or superheroes.
Sadly, there is no sequel at the moment. There is however so much potential to make this into a duology or even a series!
I don’t know if my review has done this book justice. It was such a fun book, that described one possibility for how disability is viewed in a world with superabilities. The book focusses on the themes of found family, betrayal of trust, and friendship.
Would you be interested in reading The Defectives? If you have read it, did you enjoy it?