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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Heroes Meets Sky High In Cliched Super Powers Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fourteen-year-old Dancia Lewis has spent so much time keeping herself inconspicuous (average grades, forgettable looks, dingy wardrobe, no real friends) that she's shocked to learn she's being recruited for prestigious Delcroix Academy. Although she's never actually been inside the gates of the exclusive boarding school, she knows it's reserved for the super rich and super smart. So, why does the principal want her? It's definitely not for her grades, her involvement in extracurriculars, her bold crusades to save the world, her family's glittering fortune - in fact, she can't think of one reason anyone would want her at Delcroix. Well, there is one reason, but no one knows about her ... power. She's made sure of that by remaining absolutely, completely ordinary. So, what is it the recruiters see in her? A potential for greatness? A token charity student? Someone with a multitude of talents just waiting to be discovered and nurtured? Who cares? Between the stellar education, the full scholarship, the diverse student population, and Cam, the very hot, apparently interested recruiter, Dancia really can't say no.

Her first steps on campus convince Dancia that Delcroix truly is different from other schools. The student body runs the gamut from drama geeks to computer nerds to musical prodigies, all of whom are accepted and respected for their unique abilities. Cliques are replaced by "teams," the members of which help, support and hang out with each other. For the first time, Dancia feels accepted. Even though she's yet to find her special talent, she's hopeful that she will. It doesn't hurt that she's got two guys vying for her attention - Cam, the golden boy senior, and paranoid bad boy, Jack.

As tranquil as Delcroix seems, Dancia can't shake the feeling that there's something more to the school than meets the eye. Jack, who's concealing his own dark secrets, sees conspiracies around every corner. Is he just mad that he can't seem to assimilate in a place that accepts even the most eccentric kids? Or is there something to his crazy theories? She can't deny the strange electric shock she got from shaking Cam's hand the first time she met him, but he's the most normal boy in the world. Can he be hiding a power of his own? Or is Jack's paranoia making Dancia as distrustful as he is?

When Jack finds what appears to be incriminating evidence in Cam's dorm room, Dancia's forced to accept the truth - something very, very strange is going on at Delcroix Academy, something big, something so dangerous it has Jack running for his life. Torn between helping Jack and believing Cam, Dancia has to figure out the truth about what she is, what she can do, and how far she's willing to go to protect the people she loves.

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates is the first book in a new series by debut author Inara Scott. A tiny bit Harry Potter, a little bit X-Men, and a lot bit Heroes, the novel leans so heavily on cliche that this series will never be able to stand on its own without a serious originality intervention. The plot's been done countless times, making freshness an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, Scott introduces nothing unique - no daring new angles, no captivating new characters, no surprising plot developments. Nothing. Nothing to make The Candidates memorable, nothing to keep it from fading into dull, lifeless predictability. Worse, there are no sparks between any of the characters, the story inches along at a snail's pace, and it takes Dancia the entire length of the novel to see what's perfectly obvious to the rest of us. All of these things contributed to me putting this book down twice before deciding to soldier on. I'm sure the series will get better as it goes along, but I won't be sticking around long enough to find out. My super reading powers are telling me to move on.

(Readalikes: Weirdly, it's movies and tv shows that come to mind - the book's kind of a cross between Heroes and Sky High.)

Grade: C-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs) and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Delcroix Academy: The Candidates from the generous folks at Disney/Hyperion. Thank you!


  1. Oh boy, I'm glad I read your review! The book sounded promising but if its just the same old same old, then no. But I guess the lack of orginality could be due to the fact that this new author is too "new" in the sense that she hasn't come into her own yet. As a writer myself I know its hard to get to that new idea or at least a unique spin on an old one!

    Enjoyed your review! Thank you!

  2. Because your blog is so welcoming and inviting and I'm a new follower, I wanna tell you how much I enjoy your reviews by I'm passing on the Cherry On Top Award to you. Come back to my blog and check it out :)

    <3, Ashlie

  3. MM - Good point. I think a lot of new writers are afraid to go out on any kind of limb. Still, I hate reading the same ole, same ole. Ugh.

    Ashlie - That's so sweet of you. Thanks!


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