Underdogs

By Chris Bonnello

A near-future war novel, where teenagers who escaped an attack on their special school become the last hope of freeing the British people.

Fiction | Science
203% funded
582 supporters
Published

Publication date: May 2019

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Special education has never looked like this.

Ewan West has grown up being seen as nothing more than a defiant teenage screw-up, with learning difficulties and enormous personal issues. Thankfully, he’s smart as hell in the battlefield. And now that the British population depends on him, his life might finally mean something.

Britain has been conquered, its population imprisoned in giant walled citadels. They are guarded by an innumerable army of cloned soldiers, created by the biologists and military personnel who have seized power. The nation’s last hope are the Underdogs: a dozen fighters comprised largely of Ewan’s special school classmates, hidden in the abandoned countryside near the prison city of New London.

Ewan and his friends have much to fight against – inside and out – in order to free the British people. But their war is as complex as the characters who fight it. After all, how do you defeat a factory-grown army that outnumbers you by at least a million? The answer may lie in an impossible woman rescued by the Underdogs, who claims to know the secret to destroying New London’s clone factory.

Underdogs, suitable for teens and adults alike, is a character-driven story above all else. Its main characters have spent their formative years being made to believe they’re at the bottom of the social food chain, and now find themselves trying to rescue the population that put them there. As they develop throughout the story, the teenagers are trapped in a constant conflict between learning how to play to their strengths, and coping with the demand on their mental states as the war takes turns for the worse.

In an era when fictional representations of neurodiversity and disability are on the rise, Underdogs goes beyond mere tokenism and introduces a whole cast of teenagers who think differently, balancing their inbuilt advantages with their personal challenges. The novel blends increasingly relevant social issues with intense action, and the result is more than a typical underdog tale. It is a war story about vulnerable young people trying to be the best they can be, in a world that has never been on their side.

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  • Chris Bonnello avatar

    Chris Bonnello

    Chris Bonnello is an award-winning writer and an international speaker on autism issues, formerly a primary school teacher who also works in special education. He is the author of autisticnotweird.com, where he writes about autism from both a professional and personal perspective. His diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome came at the age of 25, after growing up believing himself to just have – as documented on official forms by a professional educational psychologist – a “slightly odd personality”.


    Bonnello launched Autistic Not Weird in April 2015, a venture which has seen him attract over 100,000 Facebook followers, and over 1.8 million website hits. His first publication, “What We Love Most About Life”, was an uplifting book designed to help autistic young people feel less alone.


    Bonnello passed his Masters degree in Creative Writing with distinction, graduating in December 2017. He was also a nominee for the 2017 National Diversity Awards (Positive Role Model for Disability) and a two-time winner at the Autism Hero Awards (Top Journalist 2017, Online Social Community 2018).


    His personality remains slightly odd.

    Social media links:


    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Underdogsnovel/, and https://www.facebook.com/autisticnotweird


    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/autisticnotweird


    Twitter: @AutisticNW


    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/autisticnotweird


    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/autisticnotweird

  • A reflective road sign with a thirty-miles-per-hour speed limit suggested that a village was close by. The crumpled frame of a Citroën lay wrapped around the sign’s pole. A year ago, some idiot had tried to escape in a car.

    The driver’s body had been left for nature to sort out, and nature had done a good job of it. The skeleton slumped over the steering wheel would remain in place for decades to come, and so would the bullet that had dropped to the leather seat as the skin around it had been eaten away.

    Ewan poked his rifle through the car’s remains. They had not been ambushed this far from New London for half a year, but he wasn’t known for taking stupid risks anymore. With nothing of interest inside the vehicle, he glanced up at the sign. There was still enough daylight to read the sentence beneath it.

    Sandridge welcomes careful drivers.

    ‘Repeat after me, Ewan,’ came Alex’s deep voice, booming out from ten steps behind him, ‘we are definitely stopping here tonight.’

    ‘What, your little legs are getting tired?’

    ‘Not tired. Bored. There’s a difference.’

    It was Alex in a nutshell. The old man of the strike team, nearly in his mid-twenties, he seemed to think his extra years gave him some kind of authority. That, and not having learning difficulties.

    Ewan understood. Alex must have felt humiliated, sent out with a bunch of special school teenagers and not even being the leader. Kids in special ed were supposed to be useless. Even the clever ones.

    Ewan left the Citroën, and led Alex and Charlie into Sandridge. The other half of the squad would be less than a mile behind.

    He glanced across at Charlie, and tried to decipher his best friend’s mood. Ewan would make the same decisions however Charlie felt about them, but it was better to guess his reaction in advance. Objections were always problematic when they came from a fifteen-year-old short lad with ADHD and intermittent anger issues.

    ‘I’ll give us half an hour,’ Ewan said. ‘No more. The more walking we get done tonight, the quicker we get to the Citadel tomorrow. And the less knackered we’ll be if any gunfire starts.’

    Ewan checked around for nodding heads. Alex and Charlie would not be happy, but they knew whatever Ewan said, he meant.

    At the start of the war, there had been more than thirty people in Dr Joseph McCormick’s band of Underdogs. Less than half of them were still alive, and Ewan’s leadership had grown more uncompromising with every death. There were twelve Underdogs left now, six of them on that night’s mission. Ewan was pretty sure that was half. Two sixes made twelve, after all.

    Common sense told him a war between twelve humans and Nicholas Grant’s million cloned soldiers was already hopeless, and the British people would be imprisoned in the Citadels forever. Especially since eight Underdogs were teenagers from Oakenfold Special School. But Ewan’s whole brain was built for defiance.

    Read more...
  • 25th August 2019 Underdogs 2 has now hit 100%!

    As you just read from the title, it’s good news in the Underdogs world: the neurodiverse war novel will now be a neurodiverse war series!

    Late on Saturday night, I refreshed the page and found this lovely sight…

    I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all 352 of those people, and to all who have pre-ordered Underdogs 2 since. The production process is about to begin, and I can barely…

    20th August 2019 Links to bonus content (oh, and Underdogs 2 is nearly there...)

    Hi everyone, just a quick one this time.

    For those who haven't yet read the exclusive bonus content as a thank you for pre-ordering Underdogs: Tooth and Nail (otherwise known as Underdogs 2), here are the links to where you can find them- just click on the titles and you'll be straight there.

    Ewan West Goes To Oakenfold - the story of Ewan's first day at his last chance saloon, following his…

    5th August 2019 Underdogs 2- now with *exclusive* bonus content (and a discount)!

    Hi everyone- a few updates about the next part in the Underdogs series. I'll keep it as brief as possible.

    1) The 90-day crowdfunding period for Underdogs: Tooth and Nail (otherwise known as Underdogs 2) ends on Saturday. At time of writing, it's knocking on the door of 80%, and might actually make it on time! (Here's the link, by the way.)

    2) With that said- Unbound have kindly reassured me…

    26th July 2019 Underdogs 2 available at a discount until Sunday night!

    Hi everyone,

    Right out of nowhere, Underdogs: Tooth and Nail is suddenly roaring towards publication! 70% of the way there and with 14 days left (at time of writing) before the deadline for 100%, things are now looking up.

    Obviously though, I'm not taking anything for granted. For those who have already pre-ordered (whether they've finished the first book or not!), thanks so much for putting…

    18th July 2019 The four best ways to support the Underdogs series

    Hi everyone,

    To those who have already read Underdogs, I hope you loved it - and for those who are still reading or yet to read it, I hope you'll enjoy the journey! With the novel selling brilliantly (but the sequel's own campaign progressing very slowly), I thought I'd answer a frequently asked question. People ask me this a surprising amount:

    What is the best thing I can do to support a…

    3rd July 2019 Just a quick reminder of "Underdogs 2"'s situation...

    Hi everyone, hope all's well,

    I'll keep it short and not waste your time: with less than a month and a half to go, Underdogs 2 (known as "Underdogs: Tooth and Nail") could do with some extra support. The general attitude on Underdogs' Facebook page (here if you're interested) is that people just can't wait for the sequel- the main factor preventing people from pre-ordering is the fact that they…

    19th June 2019 Underdogs 2 needs your help!

    Hi everyone,

    First things first, I hope all of you have enjoyed (or will enjoy) the finished version of Underdogs! Those who follow Underdogs' Facebook page will have seen my reaction to seeing the actual books in all their printed real-life glory, and watching the reviews come in on Amazon and Goodreads has been humbling. Thanks once again for supporting Underdogs - I'd like to hope it's made…

    14th May 2019 Underdogs 2 is now available for pre-order!

    Hi everyone,

    To those who have received their copies of Underdogs in the post already (or have been reading the digital version), I hope you're loving it! It's certainly been an emotional couple of weeks for me, holding my first novel in my hands for the first time. So thank you, once again, to everyone who made this awesomeness happen. It has truly been a wonderful experience, and I hope the book…

    22nd March 2019 Four (yes, FOUR) important updates!

    Hi everyone - I can barely express how hectic, important, and downright awesome this week has been for Underdogs. It has involved:

    1. A release date being announced;
    2. A finalised cover being made public;
    3. The end date for the reward stage being announced;
    4. And one especially amazing bit of news that I’ll save until last.

    Oh, and it also involved the book passing 600 pre-ordered copies and…

    18th February 2019 Want to keep up to date with the Underdogs universe?

    Hi everyone,

    Wow, things are progressing rapidly with Underdogs! The publication date is now accurately estimated to be in May, the cover art is being designed (the prototypes I've seen so far have been incredible), the novel itself is going through the final proofing stage, and a whopping 465 people have pre-ordered 554 copies between them. If you're one of those people, thanks so much! (Given…

    1st February 2019 Guerrillas is dead. Long live Underdogs!

    Hi everyone,

    Two big bits of news to report in this update:

    1) Guerrillas has now been renamed, and will be published as Underdogs! The decision was a joint one between Unbound and myself, and it's certainly a positive one in my opinion. (Which is no light thing to say, given that I'd been calling it Guerrillas for nine years! There are more details in the Facebook community post here. In short…

    4th January 2019 A few important updates!

    Hi everyone, happy new year and I hope 2019 has got off to a decent start for all of you. It's been a while since my last Guerrillas update, so here's what's in the news.

     

    1. Turns out the reward stage isn't over!

    A month ago, I erroneously thought that the rewards phase ended 90 days after the project's launch - which would have been December 12th. On further investigation, the 90 day…

    2nd December 2018 The end draws near...

    ...well, the end of the reward phase draws near at least!

    I am humbled and amazed that Guerrillas is now 134% funded (at time of writing), with 12 days left of the original pre-order phase. Your support guarantees that the published version will be of the highest possible quality. Thank you all so much!

    A fun fact, actually- I learned recently that the average book sells 250-300 copies in its…

    20th October 2018 Well, this is incredible!

    Dear all,

    At the start of this journey, I was advised that Unbound projects are most likely to succeed when they reach 30% in the opening 30 days.

    On Day 35, Guerrillas hit 100%.

    First things first, I'd like to give an enormous thank you to everyone who put Guerrillas in such a strong position, and guaranteed that the world WILL get a neurodiverse war novel with teenage heroes from a special…

    24th September 2018 Day Ten - and 50% reached!

    Massive, massive thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered Guerrillas already: ten days in out of ninety and we're already halfway there! We're surprisingly close to having a published novel where the cast of heroes is comprised almost entirely of teenagers with special needs. Who'd have thought it?

    For those curious about learning even more about Guerrillas, my Facebook page for the book (and Autistic…

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  • Paul Phillips
    Paul Phillips asked:

    Hi. I'm looking to pledge at the Super Patron level but I want two books so that I can have both my partners and my name in the book. If I pledge via the £20 level twice how can I get her name in the book against the second pledge ?

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    Absolutely Paul. You can change the name in the book as soon as you've made the pledge, or you can pledge for the 2x Super Patron level which would combine the shipping. Please see here for help if you need it: https://bit.ly/2OxkPkq. Best wishes, Unbound Support

    Leigh-Anne Yacovelli
    Leigh-Anne Yacovelli asked:

    Will you ship to the US? I'm asking because the dinner is in England, which is the only mention I can find about a possible location of the author and/or publisher.

    Unbound
    Unbound replied:

    We do indeed ship to the US, Leigh-Anne. Just enter your address details during the checkout process. I hope this helps! Unbound Support