The Candidates (Delcroix Academy, Book One)
by Inara Scott
Danica Lewis is quite average. She isn’t especially smart or athletic. She can’t dance or draw or sing. When recruiters from the exclusive Delcroix Academy come to her home and offer a scholarship covering all expenses, her grandmother is ecstatic…but Delcroix is a school for geniuses. Her classmates at Delcroix speak many languages, or create gallery-worthy art, or have other talents. Why would a place like Delcroix be interested in someone like Danica? There’s no way they could know about her secret talent, the one she can’t even describe or control. When Danica sees someone in trouble, things just happen. A car might go spinning off the road, or a wall will collapse. She doesn’t know how or why it happens, only that it does.
For the first time in years, Danica is making friends and has a huge crush on Cam, a gorgeous upperclassman. One of her new friends, Jack, is extremely suspicious of Delcroix. Like Danica, Jack doesn’t seem to have any special talents. He believes the school is watching him, and that he and Danica are in danger. Danica doesn’t really believe him. After all, she’s no one special.
Danica, our main character, is a mature teen – she lived alone with her grandmother and has spent much of her life hiding her telekinetic powers – but she still struggles with normal teenager problems, like making friends, talking to her crush, etc. She’s relatable but more than a blank slate on which the reader can cast her fantasies ala Bella Swan.
Author Inara Scott spent a lot more time developing her secondary characters, too. Danica’s friends Esther and Hennie are supportive but don’t exist merely to prop up Danica. They have their own problems and goals, too. It’s good, because it gives our heroine a chance to think about someone else. Nothing sours a book faster than a narrator who talks of nothing but herself.
Oh, and of course there are hot guys. Two of them. Love triangle. You knew there’d be one. One guy is popular and gorgeous and perfect – the perfect idol, always just out of Danica’s reach who also works for the school. The other is a paranoid rebel reject who is also Danica’s best friend – the guy next door with a slightly dangerous edge. Both guys have pretty big flaws, which I liked. Much more interesting than perfection, don’t you think?
Lately, I’ve been wondering if I’ve just grown out of young adult books. Books like Nightshade, The Eternal Ones, and Intertwined really haven’t been working for me. But the first book in the Delcroix Academy series was a lot of fun. A creepy setting, some witty dialogue, and a heavy dose of mystery made this a fun way to de-stress in the midst of finals week.
4 out of 5 stars