I thought this was incredibly well done - I can't wait for the remaining two books in this series to be released, and I'm upset that T.J. is making us wait all the way until 2022 for the conclusion. Nick is an incredible character. He may or may not be extraordinary, but he's been able to overcome so much in his life, and he deals with an attention deficit disorder that oftentimes makes sitting down to think straight absolutely impossible. He's also absolutely oblivious to anything and everything around him, and I can't help but love him more for it - starting with his best friend's obvious feelings for him and ending with, well, things I can't say because of spoilers, but you as the reader will definitely be able to figure them all out before Nick does. Classic T.J. wit and charm is riddled throughout this book, and no doubt you'll fall in love with at least one of the side characters. From Gibby and Jazz (a baby butch and her cheerleader girlfriend), to Officer Rookie (whose real name is Chris, but Nick can't shake the nickname), and even Bob and Martha Gray (Seth's aunt and uncle who have cared for him since he was little), the banter and personalization of each character will have you begging for more of their presence. I'm not the biggest fan of superhero stories, but falling in love with the characters made me interested in piecing together how they all fit alongside each other in this story of heroes, villains, things not being quite as they seem, and wanting to protect the ones you love at any and all cost. I am very intrigued as to how this story will progress.
I do want to highlight a specific relationship in this book: Nick's relationship with his father, Aaron Bell. Aaron Bell is extremely protective of his son, for two main reasons. First, he is a police officer. As a former detective, Aaron has seen the worst the town of Nova City has to offer. On top of typical crime, there's also the addition of Extraordinaries, of superheroes that, in his mind, pose as much of a threat as they do relieve it. Second, they have both experienced tragedy when Jen Bell was killed in a bank robbery gone wrong prior to the start of the book. He's already lost so much of his family, he's trying to hold onto Nick tight and protect him as much as he is capable of. Sometimes he makes mistakes. He's not perfect. Neither of them are. They both say things they don't mean and accidentally hurt each other in the process. But they're trying. Each and every day they're trying to adjust to this new After. I believe it's also the reason Aaron chooses to make certain decisions towards the end of the book. And Nick shares the same protective instinct as his father - one of the main reasons he even wants to become an Extraordinary in the first place (besides working along side his major crush, Shadow Star) is to make his dad's job easier, to make sure he never falls within the line of fire. It was really fascinating to see their relationship develop throughout the book, and I'm excited to learn more in upcoming novels.
According to a recent tweet, TJ said that he wanted to give a voice to people like him [people with ADHD] so they can point to a character and say "Hey, finally someone like me." As someone who has felt incredibly seen by another one of his books, I hope that neurodivergent queer kids and teens (and adults who may stumble upon this book) are able to see a little bit of themselves in Nick. As Aaron Bell tells his son, you don't have to be an Extraordinary to be extraordinary. And, as the tagline says, some people are extraordinary, some are just extra.