I’m going to preface this review by stating that I’m internet friends with Chris, and I admire the work he does through his website/social media accounts – Autistic Not Weird. I backed the book on Unbound, and my name does appear in the backers list.
The above said, I will still write an honest review because I don’t agree with anything less. I loved this book (dystopia is my ‘bag’) and it was refreshing to read about neurodivergent written by an actually neurodivergent author. It was far more relatable, didn’t smack of ‘inspiration porn’, and was an honest account of the pros and cons having particular neurodivergencies brings to life, particularly in post-apocalyptia.
I’d say the target audience is 13+, but as with all good YA fiction, adults of all ages will enjoy it too (if the genre is what they’re in to). The pace was fast enough to keep my ADHD brain interested, but the plot was developed enough that you didn’t feel short-changed at the end. It also left me really wanting to read the sequel, which is the hallmark of a great book.
As I told the author when I first read Underdogs last year: regardless of the fact this novel is set in post-apocalyptic Britain, the heroes are all disabled children, and they had access to quite impressive weaponry, the most unrealistic part of the plot was that all of those children were in a specialist school, so must have all had statements/EHCPs. It’s a stark reminder of how the real education system is failing a cohort of children similar to those found in this book, and it makes me wonder if that specialist input and nurture is what gave them the tools to try and save the world.