Paige Not Found

Scholastic. Apr. 2024. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338880564.
Gr 5 Up–Paige Wells is almost 12 when she discovers she has a device in her brain that monitors her activity, hormones, and location in an effort to collect data from minors with autism. This has Paige reeling as she begins to question what is real and what else her parents could be lying about. When the company that created the device announces its merger with a social media platform notorious for selling personal data, Paige and her best friend Mara seek out the other children with autism who are part of the program. The group bond as they seek to stop the merger and take down the tech giants. Paige is an unlikely hero, struggling with anxiety, friendships, and gender identity and sexuality questions throughout the story. Her fierceness, bravery, and passion make rooting for Paige irresistible. The premise is dark, and what should feel like science fiction is made all the more sinister because of its realism; the companies and technology depicted are fictional versions of real-life counterparts. The triumphant group of underdogs deliver a swift, clean resolution, keeping the book from veering excessively grim.
VERDICT A thrilling story based on real, emerging technology with kids standing up to money-hungry corporations that is, at its core, about acceptance and compassionate portrayal of neurodivergence.

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