Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”
Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.
Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.
Thoughts and Themes: Thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a copy of this book so that I could provide a review for it.
I decided to listen to this book on audio since I really enjoyed listening to A Neon Darkness and this was just as great. This book reminds me a lot of The Extraordinaries which was another one that I loved which was why I decided to read this one. I’ve been listening to The Bright Sessions podcast which this book is based on and that made this book so much better. I highly recommend listening to that podcast while reading or even after reading this book.
I really love how Caleb and Adam’s friendship develops and how this relationship allows for each of them to be vulnerable with each other. I don’t want to speak up too much about this because this really unravels at the end of the book. I just thought it was great to see how each of them reacts and how Caleb is trying to understand Adam’s reaction to him revealing certain things.
I also really enjoyed how this book includes mental health in it and how Caleb’s feelings are addressed in therapy. We also get to see that Adam is dealing with depression and some anxiety and we see how those feelings affect Caleb. I also liked how these feelings affect their friendship and even more so as they learn more about each other.
Characters: In this story you get to meet Caleb and Adam who are the main characters and then a few others through their interactions with them. You get to meet some of their families as well which I really loved.
I liked Caleb and Adam’s relationship with each other and watching how they navigate each other’s oddities. I liked seeing how they learn about each other, and how they react to finding out new information about each other.
Writing Style: This book is written in first person and goes back and forth between Caleb and Adam’s point of view. I liked getting the chance to be in both of their heads and not just see things through Caleb’s point of view. I liked that we got some of Adam’s feelings because of Caleb’s enhanced abilities, I thought it was best that we saw the truth of how Adam felt from him.
Lauren Shippen is a writer most known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce Passenger List before founding Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic, set for release later this year by Marvel and Stitcher.
Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Her first novel, The Infinite Noise, will be released through Tor Teen in September 2019. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.