Nikola Kross was the smartest person in her original school. She never had trouble with any studies, and could have easily gone to college if her father let her.
However, Nikola was bullied by all of her classmates – and was totally fine with that, despite Miss Hiccup’s (Nikola had been calling her that for so long that she forgot what her real name was) attempts to get her to fit in.
In “A Problematic Paradox” by Eliot Sappingfield, 13-year-old Nikola embarks on a dangerous mission to save her father, and harder still, learns how to make friends.
Nikola’s father is one of the smartest people in the world. He is also very rich, but instead of living in a mansion, he and Nikola live in a huge abandoned supermarket that was turned into a giant lab. Their home is so large and maze-like that they need to use golf carts to get from place to place.
On one seemingly normal day, after one of Miss Hiccup’s failed attempts to “help” her fit in with her classmates, Nikola goes to wait for the late school bus. She wants to go to her favorite spot in the playground, but someone has gotten there first.
That “someone” seems almost like an actual person, if she didn’t have short legs, extremely long arms, and smell terrible. She says her name was Tabbabitha and she wants to recruit Nikola into her team. Nikola refuses, and Tabbabitha lets her go.
Everything would have been normal again for Nikola, if it weren’t for the last thing that Tabbabitha says to her: “Talk soon.”
When Nikola gets home, she realizes that Tabbabitha and her team have abducted her father. To make matters worse, they are coming back for her. Nikola barely manages to escape.
When she finally gets away from Tabbabitha and her friends, Nikola is greeted by Miss Hiccup. After a long ride in the world’s ugliest El Camino, she was dropped off at a boarding school for very smart kids.
The first thing that Nikola notices is that almost no one at The School – as everyone calls it – is human. Instead they are parahumans, aliens that arrived on Earth thousands of years ago and evolved to be more like humans.
Hypatia, Nikola’s roommate, looks like a human other than the fact that her eyes change color and she is almost impossibly cute. Fluorine is a girl who looks just like a human, but her age fluctuates randomly because of an accident in one of her classes.
Out of the few humans at the school, it’s hard to tell that some of them are even human. Ultraviolet VanHorne, Hypatia’s enemy, is so perfect that she looks weird.
Nikola enjoys studying in The School, but she can’t stop thinking about her father and the Old Ones – a group of aliens, including Tabbabitha, that were originally like the parahumans, but just became nastier – and she has a strange feeling that Tabbabitha is in The School.
Even though everyone else says that’s impossible because of a protective shield around The School (commonly known as “the gap”), Nikola knows that Tabbabitha is there.
With the help of Hypatia and some of her other human and parahuman friends, Nikola is determined to defeat Tabbabitha and find her father, a mission often disrupted by things like a cannon malfunction and millions of robotic bees.
Complicated plot? Yes, but it moves quickly and it’s easy to get caught up in the action and understand what’s going on.
“A Problematic Paradox” is a great book for anyone who enjoys science fiction. Because of some minor swearing, I would recommend it for kids ages 10 and up.