Saturday, December 18, 2010

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates by Inara Scott

Title: Delcroix Academy: The Candidates
Author: Inara Scott
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Pages: 293 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: On loan from a friend

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or less-than-glamorous wardrobe. in fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a calculated 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 she can 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 offering her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for the child geniuses and diplomats' kids--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.


Since childhood, Dancia has had a strange power. When she gets upset, things happen. Like when a guy threatens her grandmother at the hospital, he gets thrown into a wall and ends up in a coma. She tries to fly under the radar and not make friends so that she wouldn't have anyone to defend. Then comes an invitation to the famous Delcroix Academy, a school that has turned out some pretty well-known people. With insistance from her darling grandmother and a convincing argument from a boy she's developing a serious crush on, Dancia accepts the invitation and starts to make friends, including Jack Landry. Once Jack starts pointing out the strangeness of the academy to her, Dancia wonders if there is more going on at the school than meets the eye.

The cover of this book is striking and the summary is too, in its own special way. I never had the opportunity to read this book until a friend bought it and gave it to me on loan so I could read it. The first four chapters did not capture me, so I put it away for a few months and got back to it only when it was finals week, I needed a book to read, and had nothing left that I hadn't read other than this book. No more books are going to get loaned from that friend for a while because that is now four awful books she has given me in a row.

I disliked Dancia. The people around her care more about her than she cares about them. She decides to hate one girl (Perfect Girl, later given the name Allie) for absolutely no reason and even her friends get no nice treatment. At one point, her friend Esther is described as "clucking" when she is trying to comfort Dancia about something. The connotations of words matter and you do not use the word "clucking" when describing a friend unless you're trying to make the narrator mean. I kept having to tell myself, "She's just fourteen, you were just as bad when you were her age" but I stopped doing that after a while because a reader should not be forced to use an excuse like that for as many times as I had to. Even when I was fourteen and an absolute monster, I wasn't as bad as she gets at points in this novel. Dancia does not think for herself at all and I just could not stand her.

People in the novel kept calling Dancia tough and honest and great, but I never saw what they were talking about. All I found was a girl who was obsessed with a fake boy, decided to hate a girl she didn't know for no good reason, and needed a serious attitude adjustment. I disliked almost every character for one reason for another; even Jack, the character I could stand the most, did a lot of stuff that made me angry.Worse yet was the portrayal of almost any girl who was not Dancia. Catherine? Control freak bully who puts down Dancia for not being from a good family like she is. Anna? Jealous ex-girlfriend who makes it obvious that she doesn't want Dancia and Cam near each other. In this book, if you're female and your name isn't Dancia Lewis, you're either a mean girl or a clucking friend. (Yes, I am sticking with the clucking! That was awful.)

One technique I use when reading to make sure I get as much from it as possible is to stop reading and go over the major events of the novel. This helps me remember what happened for when I review the book later and it makes me remember the book. When I pulled that technique for this book, I could remember very little of what I'd read only an hour before. Writing this review is difficult because it is taking serious effort to remember what I had issues with while reading. Bad sign? Most definitely.

I'm more interested in everything the book didn't say. It's obvious already that the program isn't going to be as clean as it is explained in this book. It will turn out that it is corrupt and instead of sending people around the world to help during disasters, they will be going to the highest bidder and the governments might even be using some of the talented people for not-so-good means. I would rather read about that. If it turns out that the program is that black and white (which I don't imagine it will be due to some hints at the end of the book), then I will be even more disappointed than I already am.

Maybe this story wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have to read through Dancia's unnecessary explanations (Why do we need to know your grandfather was a logger? Get back to the story because I don't care!) and lovestruck point of view. Since this book is written in first person, the reader is stuck dealing with her obsession with Cam for 293 pages of misery. Words cannot express how many times and how badly I wanted Dancia to shut up about Cam and get back to telling the story. Cam this, Cam that, Cam wouldn't want me to do this, but Cam and I are meant to be (that last part is a direct quote from our fourteen-year-old main character, by the way)--I don't see what the big deal about the guy is about! He felt as fake as counterfeit money.

The only thing about this book that made it worth reading was Jack, and even he hit my pet peeves. Do I need to say this in Caps Lock? I think I do. STALKING IS BAD, PEOPLE! I think I need to make a tag for that and a few other things. Jack lost serious points with me when it was discovered that he'd started following Dancia after she helped him. I don't tolerate that when I read. I'm having one of those moments where I wonder if I missed the point completely or if I'm just being picky. After all, if so many other people have nice things to say, how am I able to find all these negatives? Then I remember that reading is quite subjective and the world needs negative people to make it go around. I don't recommend this book, but I won't tell people not to read it.

1 star!

What am I reading next?: Crank by Ellen Hopkins. It's already turning out much better than the awful book I just reviewed.