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Today our guest reviewer from across the pond in Colorado USA, Tanya Kaanta reviews A Losing Normal by Francis Moss.
💫 A Losing Normal by Francis Moss
-Back of the Book
Everyone we love, everything we know, is going away… and only an autistic boy can stop it.
Alex knows exactly how many steps it takes to get from his home to Mason Middle School. This is normal.
Alex knows the answers in AP math before his teacher does, which is also normal.
Alex knows that something bad is coming out of the big screen in his special needs class. It’s pushing images into his head, hurting him, making him forget. Alex pushes back, the screen explodes, and nothing is normal any more.
Giant screen televisions appear all over the city. The programming is addictive. People have to watch, but Alex cannot.
Sophie, the sentient machine behind all this, sees the millions and millions of eyeballs glued to her and calls it love. To Sophie, kids like Alex are defective. Defectives are to be fixed…or eliminated.
About the Author
Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons (“a lot more jobs, and also more fun”), staff writing and freelancing on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at.
Francis, in partnership with Ted Pedersen, also wrote three middle-grade non-fiction books: Internet For Kids, Make Your Own Web Page, and How To Find (Almost) Anything On The Internet. Internet For Kids was a big success, with three revised editions and twelve foreign language versions. He’s the sole author of The Rosenberg Espionage Case.
After high school where he grew up in Los Angeles, Francis had one dismal semester at a junior college, and then enlisted in the Army. He became a military policeman and served in Poitiers, France, falling in love with the country, taking his discharge there and traveling around Europe (including running with the bulls in Pamplona) until his money ran out.
He attended the University of California, Berkeley and became active in the civil rights and anti-war movements, still managing to earn a BA and an MA in English lit (“the major of choice for wannabe writers”).
Francis is married to Phyllis, a former music teacher and active viola player. They have a son, a daughter and one grandson. They live in Joshua Tree, California.
💫 Review by Tanya Kaanta
Losing Normal by Francis Moss
There’s a reason YA dystopic novels sell. They stretch our minds and make what we think is the impossible, seem possible. Losing Normal is another novel in this subgenre. It starts with an introduction to some unique teens who are “special.” In this regard, Alex our hero has Asperger’s. In an effort to control the minds of all children and mold the future, a new technology and educational process is created and distributed throughout schools. The students watch the television but what is actually happening involves a transmission of microwaves into the brains, whereby altering the students into compliant and obedient subjects.
Only, this technology fails to infiltrate the brains of a select few. Alex is one of them, and perhaps the secret to toppling the computer controlled program. Sara a new student in Alex’s class, is another student who is able to evade the mind-control. While the process may have been created to help bring about peace, the computer program, Sophie, has taken on a life of her own.
What follows is an adventure for our young heroes, Alex and Sara, as they try to evade the authorities while taking down the system and hopefully restoring people’s brains to themselves.
Alex and Sara have friends who help them though it doesn’t prevent them from finding themselves in nefarious situations with the enemy. How they escape and the choices they make next are in line with how a teenager might think.
All the while, I kept wondering how our hero and heroine would get themselves out of scenarios where they are imprisoned. And each time they are caught- though I would have liked to have seen other situations emerge in addition to being caught, they somehow manage to find a way to escape.
Losing Normal will hold interest for many a young adult reader interested in when AI (Artificial Intelligence) goes too far. Or the possibilities of what may happen in a futuristic dystopic world, overrun by computers and greedy and/or misled adults.
“Welcome to Calliope Education! We know that these years of rapid changes in your growing minds and bodies can be challenging and even a little scary at times. This program is designed to help you meet these challenges.”
My hands started flapping on my legs. The room disappeared and all I could see were the swarms of fruit flies, spinning like a whirlpool, stretching from the screen, coming at me. My head started to hurt. I closed my eyes and covered my ears with my hands, but I could still see the fruit flies in my head. I tried to push them away.
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