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A Problematic Paradox: 07/26/21
A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappingfield is the first of the Nikola Kross books. Nikola goes to public school but she doesn't fit in. Her guidance counselor, whom she's nicknamed Ms. Hiccup, wants to change her so she'll fit in, rather than deal with school-wide bullying. All this is moot, though, when the Old Ones come for Nikola.
Children have a large capacity for suspension of disbelief. They're also often more willing than their adult counterparts to take things at face value. Good books take those two facts and run with them to create memorable and enjoyable stories.
For these types of stories to work, the main character has to do things. They have to do all the wacky things they claim to be able to do. They can't just have things thrust upon them and then react (or not).
Unfortunately Nikola is a reactionary character. Except for a brief description of her home — an abandoned building housing entire mobile homes that serve as rooms — the entire set up for Nikola's life and her family situation is informed. She tells us she's a genius. She tells us her father is a wealthy genius inventor. We don't, however, get to meet him or see him do anything that would demonstrate his intelligence or his knack at inventing things.
Frankly in the first fifty page or so, the villain, Tabbabitha has more of a show don't tell character than the protagonist. I was more interested in her motivations and backstory than I was in Nikola's.
Even after Nikola goes on a roadtrip to a secret school where she'll presumably be safe and able to find her father the book continues to describe the oddball school and its other residents without really giving Nikola a chance to interact with it.
More than one hundred pages into the book and the most Nikola manages to do besides talk sassy to Ms. Hiccup is to manipulate intelligent silly-putty.
Nikola's first adventure, such as it is, fits in the road narrative spectrum. She is a privileged traveler (rich, smart, and wanted by an Eldridge terror) (00). Her destination is a secret school disguised as a rural town (33). Her route there is the Blue Highway (driven by Ms. Hiccup) (33).
There's a second book: The Unspeakable Unknown (2019).