In this sequel to A Problematic Paradox (2018), even superscience schools have field trips!
In between explosively rigorous pop quizzes and mad science hijinks, Nikola gets to go on not one but two of the very special school’s rare field trips. One sends the students in her electronic-combat class to the Ozarks to track down a suspected parahuman and invite them to the school. The other, for urban-camouflage class, is to practice blending in at a mall. These out-of-school adventures open up opportunities for deepening the lore of the worldbuilding and introduce the idea of a horrific new antagonist. They also allow the text to broach uncomfortable (in a good way) discussions on sources of privilege and murky loyalties, both artfully enough to avoid bogging down the action-oriented plots—which introduce new friends and foes and extensively progress storylines left over from the first book (namely, the fate of Nikola’s father and the identity of the traitor at the school). Some of the best humor comes through educational moments, and only occasionally do the wry jokes tread too deeply into far less effective, too-edgy territory. While the nonhuman characters (Old Ones and parahumans) outnumber ordinary humans, human characters tend to lack racial descriptors, seemingly defaulting to white. The well-developed denouement provides solid closure while plot tentacles set up the next story.
Lots of fun, packing both wacky humor and meaningful plot movement. (Science fiction. 10-14)