cover image Ace Takes Flight (B.E.S.T. World #1)

Ace Takes Flight (B.E.S.T. World #1)

Cory McCarthy. Clarion, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-358-26507-8

In a high-flying trilogy opener set in 2048, McCarthy (Sword in the Stars) follows white 11-year-old Ace Wells, the newest cadet to join the Biological Enhancement Systems Technology (B.E.S.T.), a corporate-sponsored educational track that trains its students in cybernetic augmentations that grant everything from super-strength to emotional insight, and bestows one upon its graduates. He’d like to master a tricky aug to become a winged superhero, thus escaping the shadow of his older brother, “fastest kid in the world” Finn. But though exuberant Ace, who has ADHD, is an expert on the program’s offerings, he chafes at its structured timeline and has trouble making friends. Partnered with three more experienced cadets—Black tech genius Jayla; white and nonbinary athlete Leo, who uses a wheelchair; and Black celebrity Grayson, whose father founded the program—Ace must win over his classmates and teachers as well as figure out which aug is right for him. Though worldbuilding sometimes feels uneven, lacking in clear stakes, McCarthy introduces an intriguing futuristic society populated by an engaging, widely inclusive cast, making for an entertaining adventure. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (Nov.)