Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

Signal Deere was an outcast to begin with, then she finds herself accused and prosecuted for her best friend’s murder. She is adamant that she was framed, but the evidence (or more accurately, lack of evidence) doesn’t support her claim. Also, she is designated a Class A–the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile. Immediately after being placed in that criminal group, she is seen as inhuman. Despite swearing she is not and could not be a killer, she is persuaded into joining a secret program for Class As – a camp where they can learn how to be assassins. It seemed like the best option compared to life in prison, but Signal immediately regrets her decision as she realized she is completely different from the other kids at camp, and they are all being treated as nothing but pawns to be used and disposed of as if they were nothing more than robotic soldiers.

Signal goes on an emotional journey throughout the whole ordeal, and we can’t help but follow. At the beginning, Signal believes there could not possibly be any similarities between herself and a Class A. They are monsters. Aren’t they? And that is exactly how we are made to feel about Sociopaths, Psychopaths, even people with Schizophrenia or Borderline Personality Disorder. But as Signal begins to spend more time with these other kids, she begins to see glimpses of their well hidden emotional scars and insecurities. She sees that they are all simply damaged humans, but 100% human nontheless. Then the anger comes at being treated as if they are not human, as if they are less than every “normal” person out there. Instead of being afraid of them, she views them as her only friends and wants to help them.

The label of “Class A” is used for fear-mongering the public and isolating anyone with the label from the rest of society. That’s what we do with almost every mental illness, but most certainly the ones most often linked with killers. But it’s doing no good to keep claiming they are monsters who never belonged in society. We use diagnoses as a way to isolate when we should instead use them to better understand these people and work harder to find any way we can help them. We know Sociopaths lack empathy, but are we trying to understand how that happens? Do we try to find other human qualities they don’t lack? No, we just point out our differences to distance ourselves because we don’t understand them and that scares us. Yes, they can be dangerous. But they are not a different species, and they should not be ignored or cast aside to be dealt with after it’s too late.

Signal wanted to get to know her fellow campers as who they are now, not what they did in their pasts. And what she saw was a group of broken kids who did horrible things but were being forced to go deeper into the abyss instead of receiving help to climb out of it. So, she decided to give that assistance, as much as she was able to. And I think that’s beautiful.

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