Thanks to NetGalley and Abrams/Amulet for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Synopsis: When a sweet nerd, an artsy cartoonist, a social outcast, and the most popular girl in school are involved in a mysterious bus accident, this seemingly random group of kids starts to notice from very strange abilities they did not have before. Artsy Martina can change her eye color. Nerdy Nick can teleport…four inches to the left. Outcast Farshad develops super strength, but only in his thumbs. And Cookie, the It Girl of school’s most popular clique, has suddenly developed the ability to read minds…when those minds are thinking about directions. They are oddly mighty–especially together.
This group–who would never hang out under normal circumstances–must now combine all their strengths to figure out what happened during the bus accident. With alternating narratives from each of the heroes, including illustrated pieces from Martina.
The start to a new series by Amy Ignatow, author of The Popularity Papers, The Mighty Odds is off to a rollicking good start. Ignatow has taken the theme of misfit kids, attaining superpowers, banding together to save the world, turned it on it’s head and throws in bullying, racism, and middle school politics for good measure. And unbelievably this works! Each character is richly drawn. For example Cookie, the only black kid in school has carved out a place for herself as the leader of the popular clique. She actually has more in common then she thinks with Farshad who at the beginning of the book she derisively refers to as “The Arab Kid” or even worse “Terror Boy”. But she’s not the only one guilty of using stereotypes to label her schoolmates. One of my favorite characters, Jay, whose somewhat ADD and always looks at the positive side to life is enamored with Cookie and calls her his “gorgeous Nubian queen” and says that someday they’ll “make coffee-colored babies”. He comes from a small town and Cookie is the only black person he’s ever met. Coming from a smallish town myself which is definitely not ethically diverse, I can understand this somewhat, but it still made me cringe. Also addressed is Farshad being the victim of anti-Muslim sentiment, and Nick’s dealing with his dying father. There are so many heavy issues brought up, but balancing those are some truly funny moments. Also adding to the appeal are Martina’s illustrations. Martina actually reminded me a little of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. She has a kind of quirky, zany view of the world, but once you really pay attention to what she’s saying/drawing, somehow it all makes sense. The ending leaves things open for the next book as the mystery of who exactly the villains are and what are they up to isn’t really answered. This first book mainly serves as an introduction to this band of misfits while successfully working in societal issues along the way. It’s funny and poignant at the same time, and I believe it’s one of the more clever and appealing books for tweens that I’ve read this year.