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(Underdogs #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  57 reviews

One million cloned soldiers. A nation imprisoned.  A group of neurodiverse rebels fighting back.

Britain as we know it lies destroyed. In the aftermath of the most daring military coup in history, the surviving population is crammed inside giant Citadels, watched over by an army of cloned soldiers. The hope of a nation lies in a tiny number of freedom fighters hidden

Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 30th 2019 by Unbound Digital (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  145 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
United by our differences

I read this book as its follow-up was shortlisted for the 2020 Guardian Not The Booker prize after a very strong show of support (which is easy to understand given how many followers the author has on You Tube and Facebook channels from his “Autistic not Weird“ website, and given the 500+ people who subscribed in advance to crowdfund this book on Unbound and are listed at the start and end of the book).

The set up of the novel is that an increasingly influential private d
Mari O'Neill
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of "Autistic Not Weird" on Facebook for a long time, and have supported and anticipated his Bonnello's first novel for a while. It is a great read. The characters are well developed and Bonnello captures their neurodiversity very well. Students with autism, severe anxiety, PDA, developmental delays, ADHD, etc. tell their stories with insight and self-awareness and show their fears and strengths.

I highly recommend this book!
Julie Walden
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible story that offers representation for neurodiversity in a positive light that shows the characters strengths and personalities well, but also discusses weaknesses, issues related to their conditions and how they are affected by day to day life as well as previous experiences. With the media often portraying special needs in a negative light, and more often than not, in incorrect ways, this book is a refreshing read. Written by an autistic man who was a Primary School teacher and cur ...more
Sidsel Soendergaard
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book for anyone to read, it has action and great characters - yes it came to our family because of the characters and their struggles but they are relatable and warm. The story is told with great understanding and knowledge of autism/spd/pda and adhd and it adds to the story, but overall it’s just a really engaging story about a band of kids who are at odds of winning this war.

I love it, can’t wait for the next book in the series!
Susie Halliwell
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Make this book your next buy because it is a good read and very different, giving alternative views of situations. You will want to read and not put it down.

This book should be on every child's book shelf and in every library. It opens up a view into others minds and resolving problems and the consequences. It has a good age variety to share the story and view point. An excellent read from age 9 to adult.
Tom Catton

LIMITED SPOILERS BELOW- referencing certain plot events but no reveals or major surprises.

I’ve read this book twice now and had similar (but not identical) thoughts both times I’ve read it. I think it’s a good book that is worth your time, especially if you’re actively looking for good representations of autism or neurodiverse characters within the YA genre.

That being said, as someone who tries not to read YA (or at least most YA, Mistborn really does it for me because of the magic), the act
Karen Barber
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A fast-paced action-packed read with some very real characters.
Though we’re never told exactly how this scenario came into play, we’ve got a world where one person has used clones to take over the country. However, there’s a small group who have not fallen...a group of teenagers from a special needs school. Though they’ve spent their lives being made to feel they’re not normal, in this scenario their ability to think outside the normal parameters is what’s helped them survive.
The writer’s knowle
Yzabel Ginsberg
Overall, it was both a fun and an emotional story, with good pacing and an appropriate mix of calm moments and tense ones. Also, since I read it through Pigeonhole, the staves were cut in such a way that they stop just at the right moment: if they hadn't, I sure wouldn't have stopped reading until the next day.

I really liked the cast, and the choice of relying on different people for a change: not your typical teenagers, but clearly the "underdogs", those seen as "problem children", considered f
"You're not defective. You're not broken. You're not the wrong kind of person. And don't let anyone in this world tell you otherwise. You and your friends are exactly who they're meant to be."

The author's note at the very beginning really started this novel off on the right foot, advising readers to view the characters as representations of themselves and nothing more, reminding us that even in united communities, there are differences, and that we can never compare one experience to another
Southern Today Gone Tomorrow
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written by Chris Bonnello, Underdogs follows The Underdogs, a group that started out as 30 folk fighting to take back England from the Clones, and is now down to 12. A routine mission to get supplies turned into a rescue convoy after finding a girl who promptly killed the assassin after her.
One of the unique this about this novel is the fact that a good chunk of the soldiers are considered "special needs" or on the spectrum. And how they are portrayed is really important and a good step forward.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as the sequel is getting so much attention and because I was interested to see what the author had done with his neurodiverse protagonists. I don't normally read dystopian fiction full of guns and clones, and to start with, there was too much action for my liking. But it got into its swing about halfway through. I really cared about these guys and their story. Bonnello writes with respect for the characters and has crafted a good story. On to the next one. ...more
Andy Weston
Not for me, way out of my depth.
Interesting to know what the buzz was about though.
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing representation of the diversity in autism spectrum disorders and other conditions!
May 24, 2019 rated it liked it
My favorite thing about this book was the characters and the way the author made everyone's experience so much different from the others. Every character was so rich, interesting and well developed that I would love to know each and every one of them.
When it came to the plot, I didn't find it the most original ever, with very obvious plot holes and plenty of things that simply didn't make any sense or weren't believable but I haven't read many books that were able to make use of tension as a plo
Maria Rivas-mc
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author describes his book as a “neurodiverse war series where autistic/ND characters are the heroes rather than the victims”. So, naturally, I wanted to read it and - thanks to the author Chris Bonnello and The Pigeonhole - I was able to do so. Fair warning: you will get attached to the characters and live in fear for them as they tackle the evil that rules in this Near Future series. In addition to reading a great book, you will get the opportunity to experience the world through the eyes o ...more
Kirsty Finn
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was hooked from the moment I read the first chapter before the book was even published. I signed up as a backer on Unbound (have already signed up for Underdogs 2) so got my copy earlier than the actual release date. What a joy it was when it arrived "in the flesh". I tried to wait to read it on my holiday but failed miserably and read it from cover to cover in 2 sittings in less than 24 hours! It kept me gripped all the way through and I found it to be well written and paced. The characters d ...more
Katie Rich
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just finished reading Underdogs for the 2nd time in anticipation of the follow-up book (Tooth and Nail) which I am really looking forward to receiving on pre-order.

A refreshing read that focusses on a group of neurodiverse teenagers and how after being defined by their perceived 'weaknesses' for their entire lives, they are needed and relied upon to 'play to their strengths' to rescue the UK population. This dystopian future based novel is fast-paced and action-packed throughout.

The novel
April Taylor
The UK has been taken over by a megalomaniacal man who has imprisoned or killed every resident through the usage of specially trained clone soldiers. The Underdogs are the sole resistance, but their numbers have rapidly dwindled during the 11-month occupation.

If anyone has a hope of surviving New London’s horrific conditions, they’ll need the help of a small group of people who are used to being overlooked and mistreated by society. So, why do the Underdogs care about everyone else? Because the
Give me a few weeks and I may string together the perfect review. However, I won't give myself that time in my desire to share how much I recommend this book.

This piece of character and plot driven wonder shows what society does with people, with itself. People label and judge all those who aren't 'normal' - forgetting how ugly humanity in itself can be. This work shows the perspective of people labeled different - ADD, PDA, Autism - but shows their internals; and show how they are still human.
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I originally bought this book because as the mother to an autistic child I wanted to support the author. I also figured that one day my little guy would enjoy reading it.

By the time it came in, I was genuinely curious about the book based on the reviews and teasers I had seen, and having read a couple other dystopian future novels and enjoyed them, figured it would be worth the read.

I read the book in one sitting and have read it multiple times. I pre-ordered the second book and anxiously wait
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid 3.5 stars. Stick with it--it gets good!

The first few chapters feel really awkward and are hard to get through. Things are spelled out simplistically when a more nuanced approach may have been more engaging; in those first few chapters I felt like I was reading a creative writing essay from a high school lit class. I almost gave up...but I'm glad I stuck with it!

The writing style improves dramatically (almost like the author finally found his groove about 1/3 of the way in). The characters
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I received a free copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

For a moment I doubted my own decision to request this book. 'Am I really going to read an action-based young adult again?' I wondered. Yes, I did request this book, and I was going to read it. I am glad I did. Because of it, I got to know those great young people. Those people who have insight in who they are and what keeps them going - and what stops them sometimes. Those wonderful, unique people. The action scenes and plo
Anna Schwirian
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great for any dystopian fan

Imagine our world overtaken by a sadistic madman who impressions the populace in third world conditions in his giant Castle. He controls it by using throw away soldiers.Now imagine that the only hope for survival comes from a group of people society would normally call broken and you have the story of underdogs.

Fans of hunger games and maze runner will love this story. It will also open you up to understanding the very people who make this world unique. A story that sh
H Swingler
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Underdogs is a great book. It is the best book I have read that does neurodiverse representation well. So many YA fiction books have characters with "anxiety" but it is always portrayed as is being shy/a bit awkward, but Bonnello does it so much better, especially with the portrayal of Kate. There is an even bigger lack of representation/misrepresentation of Autistic people with a demand avoidant profile, so a character like Ewan is so refreshing to see.
It is raw, the thoughts going through the
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange of an honest review*

Meet the Underdogs, the ragtag team of neurodiverse kids who represents the last hope to save Britain from the claws of tyranny. The author crafts an interesting and compelling action story, with a simple yet effective plot, but the characters are the ones to shine: their difficulties are never glossed over, but they contribute to their strength, and the author manages to depict life while be
Dan Russ
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read full of unique insights into a different group of heroes. You will be cheering them on.

I found the diverse group of characters to be a welcome addition to read about. You will really come to care for them. The story it’s self is a dynamic and engaging read with some interesting ideas. Can’t wait for the next book.
Elizabeth Hamilton-pearce
3.5 stars rounded up.

A group of neurodiverse teenagers fighting against a big bad establishment, what more could you ask for?! Well for me I would have like a bit more depth to the characters. It felt more like a (very good) screenplay than a novel, waiting for the actors to add the final level of sparkle. Having said that I doubt I’ll forget The Underdogs any time soon.
Francesca Pashby
Dec 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I read this because of its nomination in The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize list for 2020.

Found it a little hard going to begin with, but the story and characters definitely grew on me, and by the end I HAD to keep reading to know who survived (or didn't).

The 'special' traits of the majority of the characters actually became irrelevant the more I read, although these traits also helped them find solutions to certain situations.
Bruce Smith
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful, powerful and well written. A true look into the deep and diverse world of some very well created characters. Chris can be very pleased with the first of the Underdogs series. Highly recommended!
Vicky Allen
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, great plot and fantastic characterization. It’s so refreshing to see some non stereotypical, neurodiverse protagonists! Great read.
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“The problems are not the person.” 1 likes
“You’re not defective, Ewan,’ she continued. ‘You’re not broken. You’re not the wrong kind of person. And don’t let anyone in this world tell you otherwise. You and your friends are exactly who they’re meant to be.” 1 likes
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