The Oracle Code

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Oracle Code Book Poster Image
Commissioner Gordon's daughter rebels in twisty origin tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Oracle Code offers good opportunities to discuss trauma, rehabilitation, and disability.

Positive Messages

Disabled people don't need to be "fixed" by their loved ones. Disability takes many forms. People with disabilities shouldn't be pitied.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Babs Gordon starts the book bitter and resentful. But as she begins to take interest in the problems of other kids, she learns to be more accepting and empathetic.


An adult brandishes a gun but is overpowered by kids with canes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Oracle Code is a graphic novel written by Marieke Nijkamp and illustrated by Manuel Preitano that tells the origin story of future superhero/hacker Barbara Gordon, eventually to be known as Oracle. The novel focuses on her objections to rehabilitation and therapy after a crippling injury. When a frightened little girl disappears, Babs leads the effort to find her. The supporting characters are diverse in terms of race, gender, and disability. As for violent content, a villain brandishes a gun but is quickly subdued by kids with canes. No swearing, sexual content, or substance use.

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What's the story?

At the start of THE ORACLE CODE, Barbara "Babs" Gordon is shot and paralyzed below the waist. Over her objections, her father sends her to the Arkham Center for Independence. Babs rebels against any suggestion that she should try to fit in and address the trauma she has suffered. She soon becomes embroiled in the mysterious disappearance of a younger girl, especially after Babs begins to hear strange voices in the hallways at night. Forced to confront her own past, Barbara charts the first steps in her journey to future superhero-dom.

Is it any good?

Modern heroes are more vulnerable than they have traditionally been, and this affecting origin story presents the first case of a disabled sleuth who needs to define a new way of life for herself. In The Oracle Code, author Marieke Nijkamp makes Barbara Gordon's emotional journey essential to the thriller plot, and supplies a diverse group of secondary characters to support her quest for the truth. Artist Manuel Preitano is adept at portraying a wide range of emotional states, especially as the mystery becomes more bizarre. The solution to the case may seem obvious to older readers, but there are enough plot twists to keep them and younger younger readers engaged and looking forward to further adventures.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Oracle Code portrays kids with disabilities. What accommodations can be made for certain strengths and weaknesses?

  • What are some of the signs of trauma? What kinds of treatments help people who have experienced trauma?

  • How is computer hacking portrayed in the book? What kinds of hacking are legal and which are not?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of superheroes and kids with physical challenges

Themes & Topics

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