Actual score 4.5
Every once in a while, I buy tons of books with particular themes. A handful featuring Latino/a protagonists. 4 or so featuring Black main characters. This was part of the fleet i bought including disabled lead protagonists.
If I'm to be honest, this sat on my shelf for a few months. I'm always afraid of how authors will portray disabilities in books. Usually it find fall under the trope where somehow the disability can be "fixed" and the protagonist will live out the rest of their days able bodied. So soooo happy this wasn't one of them!
The story follows Alex Kosmitoras, an unpopular misfit, who just wants to be normal. It's hard being normal when every chance you get, there's a run in with the school bully, your parents don't have the money to buy you the things you need and oh yea how could I forget, you're BLIND. Fill in the blanks there's a chance you might just be psychic and you're in for some crazy things to happen.
At first, I thought that I would feel sorry for Alex. He was born blind and has never had the privilege of ever seeing things. I thought this would be a story highlighting what some people see as disadvantages that come along with having a disability. Alex however, made me forget sometimes that he had a disability. He was written multi faceted, engaging, charming and just about as snarky as any other teenage boy in a YA novel. Yea, he did certain things much different, but he really made his disability work for him. He wasn't moping around being sad about being blind. He had typical thoughts of teenage boy. He strived to do well in school, he wanted to make friends and he fantasized about having a girlfriend. Doesn't get any much normal than that.
So where does the paranormal element come in? Glad you would ask!
Alex is one of many who have psychic abilities. His power? He can see the present and possibly the future. I'm sure his abilities grow in the series as they seemed to grow in this book and it was interesting how this power played out in this particular book. He sees visions how he's always seem them. They're not clear images but they are very real and could possibly happen. I don't think this is the most unique ability but in this particular book, "The Gifted" as they're called, seem to have abilities that are based on the mind. That was really interesting. I loved how it worked in this book.
The plot centered around Alex "seeing" one of his friends die by the hands of a crazy person. He must somehow use his abilities to figure out whether it's a future that is going to happen anyways or one that can be prevented. I enjoyed seeing Alex gradually coming into his abilities. Sometimes the lead protagonist get "gets" it and those are the ones i relate less to. The world of psychics seemed very real in this book and It was really nice to see a disabled character written as clever. He figured most things out on his own and when he couldn't he had help from the people that supported him. He had two very present parents, and that's what's missing a lot on YA novels. The parents are just non-existent but here were Alex's parents seeing him through this war with his abilities. I think I appreciated that aspect of it the most!
When it came to the side characters in the book, I was pleased to know that both of his friends were Women of Color. Simmi was Indian and Shapri appeared in my mind as African American. Since Alex is blind, he can't really explain what they look like but there are clues that link to this. Simmi constantly mentioned things in her culture, she spoke with a singsong accent(Indian women tend to) and she didn't eat meat. Shapri talked with a slight Southern accent, She moved to Grandon because her family was affected by Katrina and she had sharpness that was undeniably "Sista"like. This fact made me really happy because all three main characters came from marginalized groups. Oh and i think Simmi is plus sized!Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy!!!
Nothing about the diverse set of characters the author chose to write about seemed forced or fake. It was a genuine story featuring a multicultural set of people. This is the kind of book I always ask for, but writers never seem to listen to my silent pleas. If there are characters that aren't white, it's usually one out of like 5. The fact that the 3 main characters are from marginalized groups makes me feel stupid for not picking up a little sooner.
My only complaint was I would have liked to know more about the history of "The Gifted Ones".
I really loved the title and the cover made it easy to see Alex as handsome. I'm not sure if he really looks like that but that's how I envisioned him. The guy on the cover "appears"to be blind and has brown skin like most people of Greek ancestry(if you couldn't tell by his last name). I also liked how he described people by their scents since he couldn't physically describe them. So many descriptions are based on looks that we forget that we have 4 other useful senses.