Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: October 8th, 2019
Synopsis: Jack Carlson is dreading a class presentation, when he suddenly finds himself transported to the Hadley Academy, a secret institution that tracks teens with unlikely gifts and trains them to protect the world from an unseen squad of killers. But Jack isn’t the only one who doesn’t know what he’s doing at Hadley. Despite indications that he is the one prophesied to end the ancient Reaper War, Jack appears to have no extraordinary abilities.
So when dark, mysterious forces grow, Hadley is in a confused panic. Much to everyone’s dismay, humanity seems to depend on Jack and his new teammates. Can Hadley’s rawest recruits push past personal struggles and enormous doubts, develop their dormant powers and stop the spreading evil? And are they willing to commit to Hadley’s motto, “One Life for Many,” and make the ultimate sacrifice? The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted might be just the place for Jack after all.
The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted is a thoroughly enjoyable story that gives the ubiquitous “chosen one” trope a refreshing new twist.
I’m going to get the one negative I found, out of the way first, hopefully without giving away any spoilers. Jack and his team are newcomers to the Hadley Academy, and as such, don’t know anything about their dormant abilities. The other recruits have had years of training but suddenly about halfway through the book, Jack and his friends are thrust into these life and death situations that had me silently protesting “No! They’re not ready!” The whole thing had me a bit stressed at times.
But that leads me to one of the biggest pluses of this book—the characters. To say that I loved Jack and the other members of Team Thirteen is putting it mildly. While this is like a teen version of the X-Men, in addition to dealing with superpowers and saving the world, these kids are also grappling with difficult backstories, and all the trials and tribulations of being young teenagers. They’re likable, relatable and easy to root for.
The story itself is exciting and managed to surprise me more than once. The world building is very well done and has more than enough originality to make it stand out from other books in this genre. The ending while not a cliffhanger per se, still is clearly setting things up for subsequent stories.
Overall, The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted is a fabulous book for kids ten and up who are fans of books like the Percy Jackson and The Maze Runner series. I am very much looking forward to the next book!