A congenitally blind boy discovers that he’s a superhero.
When his dad took him aside for “the talk” when he was 12, wisecracking Phillip expected a humiliating lecture on sex. Instead, he learned that, like everyone else in their small town, he’s a “custodian”: a superhero. Phillip has inherited telekinesis, which his blindness complicates. Relegated to the special education class at Freepoint High School, Phillip befriends Henry, an overweight, telepathic wheelchair user; Bentley, who has cerebral palsy and a hypersmart mind; Freddie, whose asthma hampers his power of gigantism; and James, also blind, who teleports. When a mysterious villain appears, the friends—dubbing themselves “the Ables”—must combine their skills to save the town. Scott’s debut squanders an intriguing premise in a cliché-riddled plot; fans of superhero fare will guess twists long before they’re revealed. Preachy, expository dialogue and Phillip’s summary-laden narration slow the pace, and weak character development renders even tragedy flat. Despite the (mostly) realistic portrayal of Phillip’s blindness, stale disability tropes abound, including disability-negating superpowers, Phillip’s “fantastic hearing,” and the glaringly infantilizing portrayal of a teen with Down syndrome as a “big teddy bear” with “the mind of a young child in the body of a grown man.” Most characters are assumed white; Henry is black. Occasional line drawings illustrate the text.
For an action-packed superhero tale sans
egregious stereotyping, skip this and stick with Rick Riordan’s The
Lightning Thief (2005). (Fantasy. 12-15)