Paige Not Found

Paige Not Found
Age Range
Release Date
April 16, 2024
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A week ago, if someone had told Paige she’d be stuck in traffic with three total strangers on a mission to stop a global organization from controlling their minds, she would have laughed. But somehow this is real life. She adjusts her noise cancelling headphones, trying to drown out more of the car horns and music blaring from a neighboring sedan. Her fists clench and unclench. Inside her shoes, her toes wiggle, trying to let out some of her nervous energy.
As much as Paige hates the word normal, it’s a pretty good word to describe her life, and the kind of night she was having just before a single email turned her world upside down.

In an effort to better understand and communicate with their autistic daughter, Paige's parents enrolled her in a study without her consent. Without her knowledge they had a chip implanted in her brain that keeps track of her location and brain activity. It can boost the chemicals that affect her mood. Suddenly, Paige isn’t sure who she can trust. Can she even trust her own mind anymore?

Now the company that created her chip is days away from merging with the most popular social network in the world, that has a reputation for selling people’s private information to the highest bidder.

Paige feels betrayed and like she’s been robbed of her free will. But there is one thing she can do. The email includes the names and addresses of the other kids involved in the study. She can track them down and show them what’s been done to them.

Maybe altogether they can put a stop to this merger and figure out how to get their chips removed for good.

Editor review

1 review
Battling to save her identity
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
A central conflict in the story involves the concept of autism. Some people compare autism to a disease and want to cure it. Others, including Paige, understand it's part of who they are and they learn to deal with it. It really bothers Paige when her father says he wants her to be normal. She thinks of people wanting to “cure” autism and compares it to dinosaurs going extinct. Some autistic people don’t like to touch others and bright lights and loud noises can be overwhelming. The story includes descriptions of Paige’s stimming where her mind is trying to calm her over-stimulation with involuntary movements.
The main conflict arises when Paige discovers the Dot that’s been implanted behind her ear. She’s worried and angered that people can monitor her life and control how she behaves. Nucleus is behind her surgery and Paige is frightened to learn the company is selling her information to a social media giant known for abusing customer data. The conflict boils down to big business versus individuals and it’s unlikely an autistic twelve-year-old can do anything about it. However, Paige discovers she can do the impossible when motivated as she recruits other test subjects to join her team.
The other main plot concerns Paige’s relationship with her best friend Mara. Mara is very supportive and helps Paige deal with stressful situations. Paige has problems knowing how to behave socially and she’s not sure how to handle being part of a new group of friends. She’s always had Mara to herself so sharing her with other people is hard and confusing. If Mara has new interests with new people, does that mean she’s no longer Paige’s friend? Friendships in middle grades can be fickle so readers should make connections with Paige’s issues. They’re not unique to autism.
What didn’t work as well:
The author includes a subplot where Paige struggles with her gender identity but it probably wasn’t necessary. The conflict with Nucleus, Paige’s struggles with autism, and the complications of friendship were enough to keep readers’ attention. There’s nothing wrong with including the question of gender identity but maybe it should have been a bigger part of the story. It almost gets lost among the other problems until the very end of the book.
The final verdict:
Young people battling with large corporations always result in a dramatic story. Paige’s autism provides a novel complication but her determination to maintain her identity makes her an admirable heroine. Overall, the author creates a fresh conflict with an underdog protagonist and I recommend you give this book a shot.
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