The characters from The Competition Begins (2018) face choices and unexpected curveballs along the path to the Junior Ninja Champion finals.
The premiere episode of the reality TV competition is such a hit that the producers decide to add a twist. There will be one more round of semifinals, a wildcard episode, which will send up to 10 new competitors to the finals. Hypercompetitive sports superstar Ty Santiago’s furious—as an alternate, he’s not eligible for another try at one of those new spots. He’s quite grumpy when an aspiring wildcard joins the team at the kid-oriented gym his parents own: Noah Dhawan, a dancer with hidden motives. Despite Ty’s hostility and Izzy’s indifference, Noah (supported enthusiastically by Mackenzie) progresses well using his dancer athleticism and balance against the obstacles (described efficiently in the compact text). As the finals bear down on the cast, Izzy must make a choice between friendship and popularity or being a responsible competitor, and Ty’s in the uncomfortable position of needing something bad to happen to someone in order to compete. When it comes down to it, though, these are good, maturing kids who make good choices. Of the central characters, implied-Latinx Ty, black Kevin, and biracial (Indian/white) Noah balance Izzy, Mackenzie, and JJ, all default white; competing teams display a fair amount of diversity as well. The ending notes the show’s renewal for another season, prompting another installment.
A fast, positive, athletically aspirational read. (Fiction. 9-12)