Series: School for Psychics #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 3, 2018
I have mixed feelings for School for Psychics and even now, after sitting on this review for a little while, I’m not entirely sure how I feel. On the one hand it was undoubtedly a fairly quick read, it held my attention, I never suffered from ‘not wanting to pick it back up syndrome’ but on the other hand it’s quite possibly a trope too far. In fairness to the author and the book I think my reading has suffered a little in the past week or so due to feeling under the weather so there is that and on top of that I seem to have read a run of books lately with similar themes which undoubtedly has left me feeling a bit jaded. As it is, yes, this was entertaining. Would I continue on? I actually would – but I’d be strongly hoping to see some uniqueness enter the formula.
The start of the story introduces us to our young protagonist Teddy Cannon. Teddy has spent most of her life screwing up any opportunities that come her way. She’s now a young twenty-something with very few prospects, living in a converted garage at her adoptive parents house and trying to pay a huge gambling debt to a rather hard faced gangster before he removes her, and her family’s, kneecaps. Of course, in fairness to Teddy there are reasons that extend beyond the norm. She can read people with uncanny precision, which is what makes her so successful at gambling and also the reason why she was banned from every casino in Vegas. Desperate times call for desperate measures though. Teddy owes money and short of her parents selling their house the only option is to don a disguise and try to make some serious money gambling. It’s a risk, but she’s out of options. So, wearing a disguise she takes herself off to win some hard cash. Naturally, things don’t go to plan, Teddy’s strange abilities seem to abandon her at the last minute leading to the loss of her stake and what’s worse it seems that her cover has been blown. Just as things look set to get messy a stranger intervenes. He smoothly deflects attention away from Teddy and after surprising her with the announcement that she has psychic abilities offers her a place at a secret facility where people with similar abilities are training to become special ops, this also involves settling her debts. It’s a way out of a fix and with few, okay no, other options Teddy takes up the offer.
So now we move to Whitfield. A hidden school for psychics based on a small island gained by ferry. Here, the students are expected to practice clean living, no junk food, no sneaking off island, no alcohol, no relationships. This school has a tough agenda. The students will have to train hard and learn to focus, having raw ability isn’t enough and the examinations all come with the understanding that failure will lead to expulsion from the school. It seems harsh but there are no second chances.
However, not all is as it first seems at Whitfield. There are hidden agendas at play, secrets and lies and it’s not altogether clear who the good guys really are or whether the students are being manipulated. This leads to a rather risky escapade and a fast paced grand finale that I won’t elaborate on.
Why did I have mixed feelings with this one? Firstly, it’s aimed at a slightly older audience with the protagonists and other students being in their twenties. However, the characters do come across a little immature – I can understand that, not everyone in their 20s acts like an angel so I don’t really think that’s a problem but the obvious falling into two groupings, the gorgeous, rich privileged and the bad kids – it’s so obvious and sets up everything that happens after that with the two groups working against each other. And, I would also mention that, for a school of psychics, where most of the teachers have their own special abilities – they are remarkably bad at upholding the rules or figuring out who the guilty parties are.
There’s the whole hidden agenda which felt a little bit obvious. Parents that died in a car crash. Strange dreams that seem to be slowly revealing things. Other issues that I can’t mention here for fear of spoilers. The tropes kind of mounted up until they felt almost too much.
On the positive side. I actually quite liked Teddy. She got on my nerves occasionally and with certain aspects of the story I was dumbfounded by her lack of ability to see things for what they really were (psychic abilities or not). But, yes, she grew on me. I really enjoyed some of the more daring exploits that the group got up to and I liked the scene where Teddy visited prison – although I couldn’t help wondering why she wasn’t simply able to tell if the suspect she questioned was telling the truth or not. Perhaps that was explained but if so I don’t seem to recall it
The rest of the group had a strange bunch of talents ranging from setting things on fire to talking to the animals – I didn’t foresee that ability but surprisingly it did come in quite useful on occasion.
I realise that all probably comes across as a little bit negative so just to be clear, I did have issues with this book but it was entertaining and at this point I would reserve judgement until reading the next in series.