This was an advanced reader copy for the July 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Title: Captain Superlative!
Author: J. S. Puller
If you removed the first chapter, this book still wouldn’t be lighthearted. Between education-based bullying and the same favoritism toward sports players as shown in courtrooms (and in attempts to keep players from courtrooms), Puller toes the water of a number of issues. Her delicate handling honestly frustrated me. The narrator sees and avoids. It is the same bystander reality we see in more dire cases, and these situations (teacher favoritism of ‘champion’ student) serves as a jumping off point in so many cases for some of the worst interpersonal acts.
However, I like to assume the best. Puller likely wanted to demonstrate the laissez faire attitude bystanders have toward bullying. Drawing attention in defense of another risked bullying transferring to the defender. Boys Over Flowers by Yoko Kamio is a great example of that. The way it ended wasn’t realistic – but it definitely encouraged fighting back and helping others, so I don’t mind mentioning it regardless.
Which is why I was excited to see how realistically Puller portrayed Captain Superlative and the rest of the students. Chapter by chapter, Puller revealed the interior (wonderful and horrifying at times) that being a bystander hides. Captain Superlative herself might just be my new favorite super.
A fantastic book that will undoubtedly one day be a movie (I’ll cry like a baby in the theaters).