Review by: Glory Skyfire
This book, as you would expect, is about a girl who can fly. Her name is Piper McCloud.
When Piper reveals her powers in the middle of a baseball game, she expects her family and new friends to be surprised, but proud. What actually happens is that her new “friends” shun her, her overprotective family drags her home, and she has to hide from the paparazzi. When the mysterious director of a special school shows up at her farm and promises to teach her to control her powers and help her meet other people with similar abilities, Piper accepts.
When she gets to the amazingly futuristic Institute, she meets a group of super-cool kids who can control the weather, use telekinesis, and more.
Despite a cover review comparing this book to X-Men, the director of the Institute is definitely not Professor X. Dr. Letitia Hellion has an ulterior motive for gathering all these very special children… and if they knew what she was doing, they wouldn’t like it.
But eventually, Piper loses a friend, does some exploring and finds the flip side of the Institute: a mission to totally destroy everything that makes her and her fellow students special. Through rigorous planning, misunderstandings, a few fights, personality conflicts, and a lot of character development, Piper manages to convince the others that they should leave. But quite a few obstacles will be thrown in their way… including a betrayal.
This book has a very sweet and true message that originality is a good thing and trying to squash someone’s natural gifts is not good for them.
The characters are all strong and well-defined. Piper has endearing strength of character and natural curiosity. The antihero was empathetic and intriguing. Even the most minor named characters have defining moments that serve to make them sympathetic.
The plot twists – There are two major ones I can think of, and while the first one is stunning while remaining logical, the second one had me empathizing with the villain – in a good way.
The setting – descriptions are very well done, which is natural, because the setting serves as a partial focus of several plot-lines.
The non-human characters – Forester has a very good imagination, and the descriptions during Piper’s out-of-bounds exploration were clear and totally easy to see.
Anything I don’t specifically mention below was probably good.
Some of Piper’s portrayal is exaggerated and stereotypical. I feel that Forester should have shown more respect for her character’s uniqueness instead of throwing a few mildly insulting, unrealistic “old-timey rural farmer” clichés into a present-day setting.
The book is significantly darker than it seems at first glance. A main character is tortured. Several other sympathetic characters are irreparably harmed. One is killed. Everyone is out to get the main squad, and by “get”… I mean brainwash and practically kill. This is all described in painstaking detail. It’s more like “Whoa, things have just gotten unexpectedly horrifying,” than “Ooh, plot twist.”
The author is trying to be punny, and can’t figure out the right/write way to go about it. The Institute’s full name can be shortened to I.N.S.A.N.E. Also, the flying girl is Piper McCloud? Really?
There is a sequel, The Boy Who Knew Everything, but I would like to warn you not to read it. It doesn’t even approach the quality of the first book. The new characters are much flatter. The plotline adds so many irreconcilable elements to the world of The Girl Who Could Fly that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief and enjoy the story. The moral is saccharine and schmaltzy and is crammed forcibly down the reader’s throat. I couldn’t finish the second book, and it almost ruined my ability to enjoy the first one.
Summary of the Review:
I give this book a very precisely calculated 3.75 out of 5 stars. It’s worth a read, but possibly not a purchase, so see if your local library has it. I loved the characters, plot, and writing, but several other elements of the story were slightly lacking, which prevents me from giving The Girl Who Could Fly four stars. You’ll probably like it, so you should try it and let me know how it is.