Spinner, a 2104 young adult novel by Michael J. Bowler tells the story of a boy with special abilities and a hard life. While at first glance it bears a strong resemblance to other young hero origin stories, it sets itself apart by not only mashing together various genres but includes a diverse cast (ethnic, sexuality and mental/physical capabilities), which includes wheelchair user Alex – the hero of the story.
Alex, along with his group of friends (all of them special ed), have a few disadvantages; from difficulty reading to ADHD, their range of issues make solving the mystery that is slowly revealed more difficult that it would’ve been had they been… average. Those difficulties not only make their job tougher and the mystery more mysterious. From a graveyard to an abandoned church, Alex’s quest to discover his truth takes him to a variety of places where danger lurks around every corner.
Though a mystery/horror hybrid, there’s nothing within its pages that would scare the average reader; the scary parts can get tense and there is some graphic violence in a few places but anyone who enjoys The X-Files or X-Men will feel right at home.
For the most part, the story moves at a brisk yet clear pace. Pieces are dropped along the way, filling in the blanks that also appear with semi-regularity. It isn’t until the end where the overgrown cast makes it a bit cumbersome to keep track of whose where and what they’re doing. It doesn’t kill the slowly built momentum but it does drag down an otherwise well-written story enough that there could’ve been some trimming before publication.
Spinner, even with its few low points, is a worthwhile read that I recommend anyone who like watching the rise of s (potential) superhero should dive into. Not only is it an exciting story but one filled with more than the usual white/straight/able-bodied/general educated cast of perfect people and that’s something we sorely need in our entertainment.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is a "spinner." His friends are "dummies." Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren't being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.
In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to "fix" the kids she injures, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.
They want to know who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she's flirting with them. Then there's the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something evil, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy the world.
The boys break into homes, dig up graves, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront a malevolence as old as humanity. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed. The kid who's always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.
If he survives...
Available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.
Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author who grew up in Northern California. He majored in English/Theatre at Santa Clara University, earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and a master’s in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills. Michael taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with disabilities. When Michael is not writing you can find him volunteering as a youth mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and volunteering within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, and hopes his books can show young people they are not alone in their struggles.