Monday, March 26, 2012

The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman

Title: The Exceptionals

Author: Erin Cashman

Publisher: Holiday House

Publication Date: February 2012

Reviewer: Maggie (14)

Rating: 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

The Exceptionals is a really, really cool book – think X-Men meets the Graveyard Book meets Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It’s about a 15 year old girl, Clair Crane Walker, whose parents transfer herto the school they run/teach at - Cambial Academy. Cambial Academy is a school for people with supernatural abilities - telekinesis, clairvoyance (telling the future), mediums who can talk to the dead, codebreakers, as well as people who are especially gifted at math/science. Clair has one talent she doesn’t tell anyone about because she thinks it’s too stupid to count – she can hear the thoughts of animals. But she settles in and finds friends, and almost all of the kids don’t care that she doesn’t have a “special”. Then, one day, she goes into the woods to write, and meets a mysterious –and apparently cute- guy. Shortly after she meets him, the most talented students from Cambial – known as the Exceptionals - start going missing. When Claire’s parents (also supernaturally talented) go looking for the missing students, they, too, disappear. When Claire and her friends find out about the missing students (and an important prophecy about a girl who can talk to animals), they follow the clues left behind to stop whoever it is that’s taking people.

That’s a pretty condensed version of the plot. There’s a lot more about what goes on at Cambial – training, classes, what the students are like – and there’s also a whole backstory about an evil man with powerful telekinetic powers who tried to take over the school. There are also ghosts, scientific healing goop, and (sort of) talking hawks.

I liked this book. It’s got something for everyone – superpowers, evil machines, ghosts, animals, and a love plot which is *NOT* overly dramatic. It’s not super scary, but it’s still really interesting. It’s definitely geared towards teens rather than kids or adults, but not in a “SUPERROMANCE!” or “DEATH TO LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE!” way. The only problem I had with it was more of a personal opinion thing – Clair likes the mysterious boy from the woods, who may or may not be evil, when at the same time there’s a really cool guy who at Cambial Academy who obviously likes her. She keeps going back to the mysterious woods guy even when she’s not sure if he’s on her side, so it gets kind of sappy at points.

However, those points are pretty spread out, she freely admits that she shouldn’t trust him (and doesn’t, until evidence pointing otherwise is uncovered) and does in fact try to get over him, which is refreshing after so many teen books with the standard “I love you forever, but I can’t stay with you, because I am a vampire-werewolf-robot-alien-hybrid! *intense glare*” plot. Also, this is mostly secondary to the whole story, so you can kind of gloss over those parts if you’re not interested. There is also action and fighting, and there are definitely some funny moments.

To summarize – refreshing teen book which is readable if you’re younger, funny moments, love plot is related but glossable for the uninterested, action moments, superpowers, has something for everyone. I’d give it 4 ½ cheeseburgers.

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