This review of Special by author Chino Chakanga has been adapted from two previous posts. First is the spoiler free review followed by the spoiler full review and summary.
Thank you so much to author Chino Chakanga for providing me with a copy of Special in order to be able to give an honest review.
Spoiler Free Review
Special takes place in a world where everyone is born with special abilities. Think any basic super-power like flight, invisibility, shape-shifting, telekinesis, etc.
Hope is a young girl who was born without any abilities. The gene that causes these powers is non-functioning in her DNA. Because of this she is considered a “maladroit.” An adroit is one with many or very strong powers. Most people in this world fall somewhere in between.
Hope’s father can fly, has super strength, and super healing. Hope’s best friend can turn invisible and phase through matter. Nearly everyone Hope knows is way more advanced than she is.
Hope is undergoing painful and extreme treatment plans to attempt to activate her ability gene. She hates needles and she hates the disappointment that comes with every failed treatment.
She believes that she lets her parents down every time she doesn’t gain powers.
She also hates that the adroit bully her at school and that even her best friend is sick of hanging out with someone with no powers.
Special follows Hope as she attempts to find her place in the world. It is a pretty standard young adult coming of age story. Hope is different and needs to learn how to use that to her advantage instead of just accepting being labeled as less than everyone else.
It’s a simple story that follows well known territory but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s comforting to read a familiar story with a happy ending.
We root for Hope and know that by the end she will certainly prevail.
It’s a very cute book that will make you smile and give you a solid distraction for an afternoon. It’s a quick read and could be finished in just a few hours.
It also has some fun action and just enough drama to make high school sound like the hormone pit that it is.
I particularly enjoyed the relationships between high school kids. Hope meets a very nice boy who can manipulate the growth of plants and it warms the heart to see how they interact with all of the innocence and awkwardness of youth.
Pick it up and follow Hope as she journeys through the first of her many adventures as someone who is not only different but truly special.
Special, YA Book Summary
Thank you so much to author Chino Chakanga for providing me with a copy of Special in order to give an honest review.
Special takes place in a world where nearly everyone has special abilities similar to what we would normally think of as super powers.
Hope is a young girl in this world who was born without any powers. Her dad can fly and has super strength and healing. Her best friend can phase through matter and turn invisible. Others have telekinesis, psychic abilities, can shape-shift, or any other power you could possibly think of.
Hope cannot do any of these things. Her ability gene is dormant and she’s undergoing extensive and painful treatments in order to attempt to activate it but after years they still aren’t working.
Hope is considered a “maladroit,” someone without powers or abilities. The adroit are the kids with the strongest and most varied powers. They pick on her at school for being different.
The adroit discover that Allie, Hope’s best friend, has the power to sneak them into cool clubs or theaters and they begin to buddy up to her. At first Hope thinks this is her ticket to being less of an outcast but she quickly realizes it’s a faster way to losing her best friend.
There is an announcement at the school that a student has gone missing. Asher is a fellow maladroit and he vanished without a trace.
With everything that is going on at school Hope continues to suffer through her treatments despite hating needles and feeling completely hopeless about the outcome.
In addition to her personal problems she is also worried about her parents. They are in the process of getting separated and Hope believes it’s her fault for being less than a perfect adroit daughter.
One day the doctors tell Hope and her mother that the treatments may actually be working but she still has no powers that have developed, just a positive brain scan.
On the way home from the hospital they get in an accident when something causes a sort of surge that deactivates everyone’s abilities for a brief period of time.
During this surge we see this universe’s ultimate villain and ultimate hero. The Marauder executes a raid on the hospital and Titan, a masked hero, attempts to stop him. We find out later that the only thing stolen in the raid were vials of Hope’s blood.
Hope decides that in spite of her recent positive brain scans she no longer wants to receive the treatments. She’s tired of trying to force something that she isn’t. She just wants her parents to be happy with who she is.
With this revelation she goes back to school and is asked to the dance by a nice boy named Gael who can manipulate the growth of plants. She accepts and appears to be on a new path to happiness.
She also gets Allie back from the cool kids when she finally realizes they were just using her. They asked her to steal money for them and her strong moral compass said absolutely not!
Things are really starting to come up for Hope when the most popular kid in school, Eric, asks her to the dance as well. Since she has some decency she says thanks but no thanks and continues to plan to go with Gael.
She does, however, agree to go with Eric for him to show her something. He flies her over to an isolated location where he has some sort of laboratory set up.
He explains that he’s the one who stole her blood from the hospital. He’s been using it to build a virus that will inhibit everyone’s abilities. He wants to do this so that everyone will be equal.
She doesn’t understand why Eric, an adroit who always bullied her, would want to do this. It doesn’t make sense.
Eric, turns out to actually be the missing boy Asher. Asher’s treatments worked very well and he developed a strong shape shifting ability along with other powers. He accidentally killed Eric by sucking up his powers and his very lifeforce so he’s been living as him ever since.
Hope escapes and contacts her family. Her mom immediately teleports to where she is to help and her dad shows up as the masked hero Titan. Asher manages to set off the inhibitor right before Titan restrains him.
Since all of the adroit are now disabled, maladroit Hope is the only one who can save the day. Hope de-activates the inhibitor. Everyone’s powers return and Hope is powerless but a hero.
After this climax everything comes to a quick conclusion.
Her family accepts her and loves her.
She accepts herself.
She gets to go to the dance with a nice boy. The students all agree to not crown a king or queen and simply have a good time.
Overall, this is a very cute YA story about fitting in and accepting yourself. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but you need to learn to define yourself by your strengths alone.
Hope is relatable and the story is just familiar enough to make it a solid comfort read. It would be like being a human in X-Men or a Muggle in Harry Potter.
It’s a simple and quick read, I finished it in two days but it could easily be completed in a single Saturday. Most importantly, it has a nice clean happy ending that is sometimes exactly what we need. It’s uplifting and sweet.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a nice distraction from whatever is bothering them. Hope saves the day and gives us… hope.
3/5 syringes 💉💉💉
For more super hero young women check out Ms Marvel.
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