Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kid Konnection: Delcroix Academy - The Candidates

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you a new young adult book that I enjoyed a great deal.

Summary: Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just... happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden. But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses--not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome. And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her "gift" than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy. -- Hyperion

What is it about books that take place at boarding schools? For some reason, I'm always drawn to them. I think that might be what first appealed to me about DELCROIX ACADEMY, BOOK 1 - THE CANDIDATES by Inara Scott. However, after I read the book's description, I thought it sounded even more intriguing. A little romance, teen drama, mean girls, suspense.... And then there's that whole supernatural aspect. It just sounded like a fun (and exciting!) book -- and perfect for teens!

I did enjoy THE CANDIDATES very much. I don't want to say I was surprised (because I was expecting to like the book), but in a way I was. Based on the cover, I thought the book might be heavy on the supernatural aspect, and I tend to be kind of picky about what I'm willing to believe when it comes to this genre. However, I soon realized that this book was so much more than just a supernatural story (although I did think the supernatural aspects were handled very well.) The characters were pretty well developed and seemed to realistically portray the different types of people you meet in high school. I especially liked Dancia and was able to relate to her -- except for that whole "gift" thing she had going on. I was a child who moved around a lot, and often times felt like an outsider when starting a new school. I could understand Dancia's fears and concerns, and I thought the author did a great job of capturing the essence of an insecure teen. Dancia's friend Jack was another great character -- I found him to be so interesting!

In addition to the characters, I found the plot in THE CANDIDATES to be a good one. It captured my attention from the start and I liked how the story (with all the twists and turns) unfolded. The book did a great job of introducing the characters and it did answer some of my questions, but there are still quite a few things out there about which I'm curious. Based on the book's ending, it's apparent that there are a lot more stories for Dancia, her friends, and the students at Delcroix Academy. Needless to say, I'm anxiously awaiting a sequel.

While this book is considered Young Adult, I believe that this book will appeal to (older) tweens as well as teenagers. In fact, I actually passed it on to Booking Daughter because I thought she might enjoy it. (She was a bit surprised because the cover led her to think that the book might be for more a "mature" audience.) Even though this book deals with teens and a boarding school, the story was clean and the main characters had some redeeming qualities. As a mother of an 11 year old daughter, I really appreciate that the book looks and feels like a young adult book, but that it is still okay for my tween daughter to read-- it's sometimes hard to find books for this in-between age.

Another great thing about THE CANDIDATES, which is near and dear to my heart, is that it would make a fun selection for tween/teen book clubs as well as mother daughter groups. There are a lot of interesting (and important) topics to discuss including dating/romance, cliques, mean girls, and other typical growing up issues -- which will definitely appeal to teens. And, there are also some more general issues like responsibility, trust, family dynamics, choices, change, right vs. wrong, etc. that also warrant some further discussion. Moms, especially, will appreciate that THE CANDIDATES touches upon some of these sensitive issues. I was so excited to see that Ms. Scott has a wonderful study guide/reading guide available on her website. Not only are there discussion questions about the characters, plot, setting, point of view, and themes, but there are also some suggested activities.

I highly recommend THE CANDIDATES. I think tweens and teen girls are going to love this story.  Personally, I can't wait for Book 2!

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this novel.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Pam said...

I borrowed this from a friend and keep meaning to read! I keep hearing how good it is!

Beth F said...

This sounds like a winner. But then, I generally like paranormal.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds great! As you may know, I love those tween/YA books! :--)

bermudaonion said...

I'm drawn to boarding school stories too, so this one sounds appealing even with its paranormal aspects.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Yup, set the story in a boarding school, and I'm all over it (when I was a teen it must have been an escape fantasy of mine ... maybe it still is!).

The fire engulfing the cover would have also drawn me as a tween/teen (not so much now, I've become wimpy!)

Laura Fabiani said...

You're right that it's not easy finding clean YA books. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

Inara Scott said...

Hello! I really appreciated this review -- if any of you have book clubs and you'd be interested in having me do a Skype chat with your club, let me know! I'd be happy to come "hang out" with you and answer any questions you might have. :-)