Nobody likes it when Piper McCumulus flies. Her parents don’t like it, the people in her hometown don’t like it, and the government doesn’t like it. In fact, the government has a special place for kids like Piper. It’s called I.N.S.A.N.E.
“The Institute of Normalcy, Stability, And NonExceptionality is a perfectly constructed, faultlessly operated facility with only one purpose—to make everything and anything that passes through its doors normal.”
And that’s bad news for a group of unlucky preteen superheroes, including Piper McCirrus. They’ve been taken away from their parents and are unknowingly being deprogrammed by Dr. Helen Wheels, the facility’s chief administrator. It’s her (misguided?) goal to wipe superheroes from the face of the planet.
“We’re not comic book characters with happy endings all mapped out for us,” says Conrad, the super genius of the bunch. And he’s right. Helen Wheels is using psychology, drugs, intimidation, and torture to “reform” the captured superkids. At this point, it’s like everyone is trapped in a grim V.C. Andrews novel.
Piper is the key to a happy ending, of course. With her sunny attitude, and an opera-singing Jiminy Cricket in her pocket, she inspires an I.N.S.A.N.E. revolt. Along the way, she’s able to save some cuddly animals and pretty flowers too.
The novel starts strong as Piper discovers her ability to fly and struggles to keep it hidden from her neighbors. She’s a great character (with a great voice) that will put a smile on many readers’ faces. Problems arise, however, once Piper gets to the superhero prison camp. The cruelty and mutilation she and her friends suffer is arguably inappropriate for a kiddie book like this.
Once I.N.S.A.N.E. has been dismantled and repurposed, all the superhero kids are finally allowed to celebrate their uniqueness. The ending won’t surprise anyone, but seeing Helen Wheels get her comeuppance will make a lot of people happy.
[The Girl Who Could Fly / By Victoria Forester / First Printing: June 2008 / ISBN: 9780312374624]