Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: The Exceptionals

The Exceptionals
Published By: Holiday House, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2012
Page Count: 236
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher for TLC Book Tours
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

Imagine that X-Men weren't mutants, but rather humans with exceptional mental talents - add in a boarding school for the gifted and a compelling mystery - and you'd walk away with The Exceptionals. I had never heard about this book until I agreed to review it for a book tour. I didn't know what to expect since it is also by a debut author. What I found between these pages took over my mind (and weekend) like a whirlwind. I could not put this one down.

The Exceptionals is an imaginative tale that focuses on Claire Walker and her talented family; both her parents and siblings all have specials. Specials are talents that people are born with that allow them to do wondrous things.  Claire feels like she doesn't belong in her exceptional family because she doesn't have a special. While her parents work at Cambial, the elite boarding school for those with specials, and her older brother and younger sister attend and board at Cambial, Claire is left on the fringe, unable to truly join their world. An underage drinking incident the night of the Spring Fling turns Claire's world upside down. Her parents pull her from public school and force her to attend Cambial. Claire will find that things aren't always what they seem as she navigates the social currents of her new school and attempts to find a group of people who can accept her as the special-lacking girl that she is. A chance meeting with a handsome stranger sends Claire's life on the road to her destiny.

I really liked the entire concept of specials. Learning about each of the specials and what they could do was fascinating. I sure wish I had the power to be a truth seeker - it would come in handy when my students were trying to get out of taking responsibility for not turning in an assignment. There were so many ethical implications to consider. When people are properly trained, their specials can be used to do so much good for humanity. Power that amazing also can come with a heavy price. Many in the past have tried to use their gifts to obtain dominion over the other specials in order to control the world. It's the same old song and dance we see from a lot of villains, but Cashman still finds a way to keep the reader riveted during the showdown between good and evil. 

In addition, I also loved the setting. There is something about books set in boarding schools that intrigues me. Perhaps it is the fact that as a kid I always daydreamed about attending one. They just seemed to have this magical air about them. Cambial is certainly a school I would have enjoyed.

Also, I really enjoyed seeing Claire evolve throughout the course of this novel. I found her to be whiny in the beginning and her choices often baffled me. Her relationship with her mother was also a sore spot for me. I couldn't understand why these two were constantly bickering. Eventually Claire is able to see her mother's motivation clearly. It was also interesting to me to see their issues reflected back in the relationship between Ferana and Talrin.

My biggest complaint with this one is the beginning. It is very slow and took several chapters to really hold my attention. Once the action picked up, I was hooked. The mystery elements are somewhat predictable, but I really enjoyed watching them play out. 

Overall, this was a really fun, well written read. Cashman does a nice job of ending this one in a way that sets it up nicely for a sequel. So many things are resolved, but some big conflicts are still lingering. I was very invested in these characters and want to spend more time with them. 


One Last Gripe: There is a bit of insta-love happening in this one. I just had to accept it and keep turning those pages.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The ghosts - loved 'em!

First Sentence: I only hesitated for a moment.

Favorite Character: Claire

Least Favorite Character: Jane



Born into a famous family of exceptionally talented people, 15-year-old Claire Walker has deliberately chosen to live an average life. But everything changes the night of the Spring Fling, when her parents decide it's high time she transferred to Cambial Academy--the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities.



About the Author:

Erin Cashman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Bates College in Maine and from Boston College Law School. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three children, and dog. The Exceptionals is her first novel.

Monday, May 14th: Twisting the Lens
Tuesday, May 15th: A Musing Reviews
Wednesday, May 16th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, May 17th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Sunday, May 20th: Reading Lark
Monday, May 21st: Life is Short. Read Fast.
Tuesday, May 22nd: Just Joanna
Wednesday, May 23rd: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, May 24th: Broken Teepee
Monday, May 28th: Reviews From the Heart
Tuesday, May 29th: Brandi Reads
Wednesday, May 30th: Book Him Danno!
Thursday, May 31st: A Soul Unsung
Friday, June 1st: A Novel Source


*GIVEAWAY OPEN TO US AND CA RESIDENTS ONLY!
* YOU MUST BE 13+ TO ENTER

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29 comments:

  1. Where is the interview to comment on?
    Many thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That should have said comment on the review. Thanks for catching that typo! I have fixed it.

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    2. Thanks! I like that this may possibly
      be a series...The boarding school setting
      and the characters sound intriguing!
      Many thanks, Cindi
      jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

      Delete
  2. LOL - I'm exactly like you, there's something about *boarding school* settings that make for really neat, fun reads!! They are some of my favorites ... plus the ghost factor always rocks :D

    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

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    Replies
    1. The ghosts in this one were very cool. I think you'll enjoy them.

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  3. Hi Andrea,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review The Exceptionals. I am so happy you enjoyed the book!I had always wanted to go to boarding school, too. Jane was my least favorite character as well - but she was fun to write!

    Erin

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Erin. I really enjoyed your work and am anxious to read the next book. Yes, Jane was one of those girls you love to hate - I can see how she would have been fun to create.

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  4. I have been wanting to read this since I first heard of it. Thanks so much for this giveaway!

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  5. I love the sound of this! How unique - and the family dynamics seem to be rather troubled since Claire is different, but I can see the potential for a lot of development.

    I too love boarding school books:)

    Thanks for the review:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The family dynamics were intriguing and watching them unfold was highly enjoyable. Glad you enjoyed the review!

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  6. The idea of specials is very intriguing to me as well. Wouldn't it be great to have extra-sensory abilities like that. Thanks for offering this cool book for giveaway.

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    Replies
    1. I loved that the specials were not just magic. They were truly about mental powers. The author has some great information on her website about where she came up with the idea.

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  7. Sometimes predictable mysteries are fun. You can concentrate more on the story than the who-dun-it

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    Replies
    1. Great point, Jasmyn. I loved being able to really focus on the characters and their abilities.

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  8. This book sounds very interesting.
    I've never wanted to go to a boarding school.
    I spent enough time away from family growing up, going
    off to school was never my idea of fun.

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  9. The idea for the book came to me in elementary school. My Dad used to say we only used ten percent of our brain power, and I always wondered if anyone could use more than that. It would be great to have a special, Carl, I agree! Like Claire, I'd love to be able to communicate with animals. I don't think I'd like to be able to see the future, though.

    Andrea, Jane and Tabby were both very fun to create!

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    Replies
    1. Oh! How could I have forgotten Tabby? I loved her too.

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  10. Thanks for your honest review...glad you stuck with it and it ended up being a good read. I still very interested in this book....it sound interesting.

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  11. This sounds like a fun book to read. It kind of makes me think of the movie, Sky High, in a way. Thank you for the head's up about the slow beginning - I will stick with books if I think they'll get better (I'm the eternal reading optimist, I think).

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    Replies
    1. I didn't even think of Sky High, but now that you mentioned it I can see the comparison. I also read on Erin's website that the mother in this one was how she thought Professor McGonagall from the HP series would be as a mom. She did a great job with that.

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  12. Wow! This sounds like a very interesting book, and one I would LOVE to read for myself! Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy:)

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    1. Based on some of the other books you have commented on, I know this one is one you'd love, Julie. I hope you get a chance to read it even if you don't snag this giveaway copy.

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  13. I am intrigued! Another well done review. Thanks for the giveaway

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  14. The EXCEPTIONALS sounds like it has a lot of "special" qualities. I'd love to be a truth seeker, too and I agree that these kinds of gifts come with a heavy burden of responsibility. Thanks for your review! Will be crossing my fingers for this one.

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  15. Wow sounds interesting that Claire's family have specials and that there is an elite boarding school for those who are born with specials!

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  16. I'm glad you stuck with it even though the beginning didn't grab you - sounds like it was very worth it in the end!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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  17. This sounds like a wonderful book! I look forward to reading it! Thank you for the information and giveaway!

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