Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: The Candidates by Inara Scott

The Candidates
Author: Inara Scott
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: Delcroix Academy #1
Pages: 293
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: August 24, 2010
How Received: Won

SummaryDancia 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, Dacnia’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 the 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.

My Thoughts:
The Candidates starts off very slowly, despite the fact that it starts at the beginning of all the “action”. The very first chapter involves Dancia’s recruitment into Delcroix Academy, but it spreads off into five more chapters and sort of dragged on. That’s sort of how the entire novel played out, actually. There was no real action, besides the end, and the book mostly involved Dancia dealing with the way Cam makes her feel. In fact, the summary says that Delcroix involves humans with supernatural abilities but... it isn’t really like that, at all. The supernatural side doesn’t even get a chance to come out and play until the end. We didn’t even read about the classes – I think there were like, two genuine classroom scenes. It was all just about Dancia stressing over romance.

For the first half of the book, we’re left in total suspense. We have no idea what’s going on, and besides Jack’s suspicions, Inara gives us no bones – we’re just left guessing. Nothing’s explained. But then, at the end, we receive this onslaught of information all at once and it becomes overwhelming. I suppose that’s what irked me, too: why would all of this information be revealed to Dancia? Even if she was going to join them, I’d expect more resistance on the groups’ part. Or more secrecy. But nope, once “the cat was out of the bag”, everything just spilled out all at once.

I started out being indifferent to Dancia. She’s just average – average grades, looks, thoughts, etc. She blends into the background, and it worked so well that she didn’t stand out for me, either. She self-isolates her from her peers from fear of hurting someone and has no thoughts of her own. While that was great and all, her self-isolation made her making friends hardly believable. So yeah, I was indifferent to Dancia at first.

But then she pissed me off. I can appreciate Dancia swooning over an older guy (even though it was sort of gag-worthy since I did not like Cam whatsoever) and even ditching her friends for that reason. I mean, a lot of teenage girls do it, right? A 14 year old won’t suddenly become immune to an older guy giving her attention. But when she starts ignoring, and even avoiding, the one true friend that she’s made at Delcroix, the one who has helped her since the beginning and makes her feel like she belongs and truly understands the way she feels about everything, just because of said older guy, then I get pissed off. Sure, she’s a teenager and I shouldn’t be so critical, but she treated Jack like absolute crap. He was always there for her and remained loyal to her, even if she kept treating him unjustly. When Jack needed Dancia, she would always back away; when Dancia needed Jack, he was always there for her. What crap.

Actually, I take that back. Dancia treats all of her friends like absolute crap. Jack just gets the most crap from her because Cam tells her to stay away from Jack. I mean, she bags on her two “best friends” whenever they do something she doesn’t like. She hates “Perfect Girl” Allie for no reason. I get that teenagers can be very judgmental, but hating people who try to help you and people who have absolutely no reason for you to hate them? Ugh. Jack had it right when he finally got mad at Dancia’s stupidity: she’s definitely “deaf, dumb, and blind.”

Cam rubbed me the wrong way. Seriously. While Dancia thought he was swoon-worthy and a great guy, I just thought he was slimy. I didn’t like him, nor did I trust him. Dancia has proved time and time again that she is freaking stupid, and for her to wholeheartedly trust Cam after he lied to her over and over just exemplifies Dancia’s stupidity. I don’t even think he truly likes her. He can say whatever he wants and smooth talk her over, or whatever, but I doubt I will ever trust Cam.

Jack was this novel’s saving point. He was such an interesting character that had so much depth in him. Not only has he been in a gang and has been homeless, but he was abandoned by his own parents. And he’s still going. I would have given up by that point. But Jack is strong, if only sad and lonely. He’s so sweet and caring, and he knows how to turn up the charm with Grandma! He’s also troubled with inner demons, has fears of being followed, and has suspicions galore. But he’s still a great friend, always there for Dancia whenever she needs him no matter how shitty she’s treated him. (Can you tell I’m “Team Jack”?)

Cover Musings: Pretty. :) Very eye catching in a bookstore. xP

Memorable Quotes:
At that moment, all I could think of were those cartoons where Goofy gets stuck in front of a snowball rolling down a hill, and the snowball hits him, and he’s smushed into the side of it, and you can see him spread-eagled on the snowball as it keeps rolling down the hill.
Because that’s exactly what I felt like. (pg. 17)
Life was changing. I wasn’t sure where it was taking me, but I had a feeling things would never be the same. (pg. 89)
I blinked and tried to focus on what he had just said. My heart slowed abruptly. Apparently he hadn’t pulled me aside to ask me to be his one true love. (pg. 96)
“Did you move up here with your mother?” Grandma asked.
I threw her a black look. Didn’t she know it was rude to bring up such personal issues in the Walmart checkout line?  (pg. 151)
Jack was powerful, even I could see that. He could be dangerous. There might even have been a little evil in him.
But isn’t that true of all of us? (pg. 292)
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I liked this book, but there were also a lot of things I didn’t like about this book (the main character being one of them). It was very slow-paced and dealt with Dancia’s feelings over Cam more than anything else, and didn’t really deal with “magical abilities” like the jacket said it would. Cam, the main love interest, rubbed me the wrong way – I totally thought he was slimy from the very moment he was introduced. Jack was the novel’s saving point and was one of the only characters that had more than one dimension to him. I do want to see where the story progresses, naturally, but the book wasn’t as addicting as I thought it would be.

Rating: 3.5/5

**This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge!


Nic @ Irresistible Reads said...

Great honest review. The characters sound a little annoying. I think I might skip this one :)

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Great honesty, as usual, Kristina! I keep putting this off because of the slow start, and I doubt I'll pick it up again soon. Characters that irk me with a slow start to a book doesn't equate to the best read for me haha Love your review though! :)

Jenny said...

Nice review Kristina, we are definitely on the same page with this one! I adored Jack, he was definitely the most interesting part of the entire story and is the one thing that will make me pick up book 2. I just didn't understand why the supernatural part was so small, I found the blurb to be a bit misleading for this one!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Now I have passed on this series and I don't think this one is for me. However, I love your review and what you thought about Dancia. Just perfect! :)

danya said...

Aw, I'm glad that you enjoyed my WoW pick this week! And I agree - the way Dancia treated Jack was immature and irritating. He was definitely the best character there...personally I never got what Dancia saw in Cam, and so it frustrated me no end when Dancia kept choosing him over Jack.

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

Nic: They were, sadly. The only character worth reading about was Jack, and he got the short end of the stick. :/

Melissa: Thank you! :) The book overall is very slow, and it doesn't pick up until the end. I'm kind of torn between requesting this and ranting in frustration at Dancia. :P Hopefully the sequel will be better.

Jenny: I adored Jack too! :( I hated how Dancia treated him. Like you, I'm only picking up the 2nd book because of him. I have a feeling he's going to play a more central role once Dancia realizes the mess she's gotten herself into. And the blurb was so misleading for me, too! I mean, cmon, if you say there are supernatural abilities going on, I expect it to be start from finish, yknow? :/

Melissa: I'm sort of torn between this book. I liked it, but I disliked it at the same time. :s But yeah, Dancia annoyed the living daylights out of me.

Danya: Exactly! Dancia comes off as way more mature than a 14 year old - I felt like I was reading a 16 or 17's y/o's perspective - but the way she treated Jack was SO immature. I hated it. I didn't see what Dancia saw in Cam either, other than he's swoony gorgeous and she loses all her thoughts around him. Blegh. :/

Emi said...

Aw crap. I have this book sitting on my shelf and now I really don't want to read it. xD You know me, I hate characters that treat their friends like crap and ditch them to hang out with creepy guys. It seems like there's a lot of those characters popping up in paranormal school books...Sad day. The plot seemed like it had potential. j3j

I think we need to write our own paranormal school story where the main character is actually a nice person who treats their friends with respect. We can throw some dragons in there for the hell of it. ;D

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