I received this work from the author, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Recently, diversity has become a key word, and concept, within any discussion of; writing, publishing, reviewing or reading. Concerned individuals have lamented the absence of; women, members of other cultures/countries, and members of the quiltbag communities, from our books and stories. There have been calls, and active moves, for these groups to get more attention from; publishers, editors, reviewers, and readers. But, one group remains in the shadows of these debates, continually delegated to the end of that list of oppressions/inequalities. Disabled people, people with disabilities, have been underrepresented within discussions of underrepresentation. However, this situation is gradually changing. Publishers, such as Twelfth Planet Press are beginning to produce works that incorporate disabled characters. Ables is another of those works that have actively brought disabled characters to the forefront of the story.
Like most superheroes, the protagonist of this story has super powers. But, unlike most of those heroes he also has a disability/impairment. He is blind. One of the main storylines of this work concerns his attempts to prove himself, and his friends, worthy to be included within his new school. We see him on his first day at his new school. We see his excitement at being at a school especially designed for kids with superpowers. We share his confusion at trying to navigate a new world that he cannot see. We see his disappointment when he finds out that he has been placed within a segregated unit for people with disabilities. We see his trepidation about being with other disabled individuals. But, we, also, see him forming friendships with his class. Then we follow their united struggle to justify their place within this unique environment. This ultimately leads them to fight the school authorities for the right to compete in a school contest, from which they have been excluded. They win and they begin to learn how to combine their special skills to beat, both; their disabilities, and the tasks set for them as part of the competition.
If that had been the entire story, and if the author had let the characters focus on the competition and continue growing into their special powers, then this book would have been almost perfect. However, the author diverts the characters, as well as the readers, attention into a rather over dramatic fight against a cartoon villain for the Future of the world. This turned what could have been a new take on the superhero story into; a well written, but overly busy, and somewhat clichéd tale of the chosen one. This, and the lack of really strong female characters, limits the work.
But, having said that, this, with its band of disabled characters, is still an interesting, exciting, and important work. It is an exciting adventure story that would be a very pleasant summer read. Check out the publisher’s website