The Exceptionals is written by Erin Cashman. It was published in 2012 by Holiday House. Cashman’s website can be found here. This could be a series, but so far it’s just a stand-alone novel.
Genre: Supernatural, Realistic, Young Adult
“In a famous family of exceptionally talented people, fifteen-year-old Claire Walker is ordinary…or so she leads everyone to believe. Yet the minute she steps out of line, her parents transfer her to Cambial Academy: the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities, or “specials.” Although Claire can’t see ghosts or move objects with her mind like the other students, she does have a special she considers too lame to admit.
Just as she is settling in, one by one the most talented students—the Exceptionals—go missing. In an attempt to find out what happened to them, Claire uncovers a dark prophecy foretelling a mysterious girl who will use her ability to save Cambial students from a dire fate. Could she be that girl? Does the gorgeous but secretive boy he meets in the woods know more than he’s letting on? After years of ignoring her special, Claire decides the time has come to embrace her ability…before it’s too late.”
I could hear the thoughts of the animals around me, a low humming noise, and if I stopped and concentrated, I could hear individual thoughts or feelings. A red cardinal flew directly in front of me and thought thirsty. Curious, I veered off the path and followed him.
The branches scratched at my face as I climbed through the dense underbrush. After a few minutes I came to a shadowy area filled with large, thick trees. Their leafy canopy blocked most of the sunlight, making it impossible for many plants to grow. Feeling a bit uneasy, I stopped and listened to the creatures surrounding me; there was no sign of danger.
I couldn’t see the cardinal anymore, but I saw a large hawk swoop overhead. Thirsty and hungry, she thought. As she glided downward her strong wings seemed to span the entire sky. I followed beneath her, jogging to keep up. The trees thinned, and soon I found myself on the edge of a field. It was so quiet and peaceful, a little oasis in the middle of the forest. Pussy willows and wild flowers swayed gently on the banks of a winding stream. Lured by the melody of gently flowing water, I climbed up on a large rock that overlooked the brook.
“So, did you guys hear about Jane?” he whispered, although no one was nearby.
“No, what?” Billy asked.
“Gone. Wh-what do you mean?” I stammered.
He shook his head slowly. “No one’s seen her for days. Poor kid, I think seeing me with Ally was just too much for her.”
Neither Billy or I could speak at first. A hundred thoughts jumbled through my head at the same time. To say I didn’t like Jane was an understatement, but I certainly didn’t want her to be kidnapped.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
It was a good concept, just executed extremely poorly.
What I Didn’t Like:
The book was completely unoriginal, a tad melodramatic at times, and extremely cliché to the point of teeth-grinding. I sometimes don’t mind a little cliché, but this…this was bad.
So, so, there’s this girl, and she doesn’t have any powers, except, oh wait, she has a RARE and POWERFUL “special” and is the subject of a PROPHECY, gasp, and is the only who can save the world, yadda yadda yadda. Then there’s this gorgeous, buff, hunky boy who she meets in the wood and is so MYSTERIOUS and HANDSOME and she falls in love with him at first sight and completely rebuffs poor Henry. And of course she rehabilitates him from his DARK, EVIL WAYS and SAVES HIS SOUL AND THE WORLD and now they can BE TOGETHER 4EVER. Like I haven’t heard that one before.
Sorry for the sarcasm, but I really can’t take this book seriously at all. Also, the action in this book was really poorly written.
So, yeah. Not really my type of book at all, if you couldn’t tell.
The Exceptionals is not even close to being exceptional. It’s probably one of the most unexceptional, unoriginal books I’ve ever read. The sad part is that if the concept had been executed differently, it might have been really good.
Coming Up Next: Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey