Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Candidates

THE CANDIDATES (Delcroix Academy #1)
Inara Scott
Paranormal Young Adult
293 pages
Available Now

Dancia Lewis has a gift that terrifies her. If she finds herself in a stressful situation, any outcome she consciously thinks about comes to be. When a crazy man pulls a gun and waves it about a hospital waiting room, her ability comes in handy, but whenever she uses it, someone ends up hurt. No one can no what she can do, and she doesn't want anyone else to be hurt because of her.

Shortly after the hospital incident, a recruiter and a student from Delcroix Academy show up at the house where Dancia lives with her grandmother, informing her they are willing to provide her with a full scholarship to the school even though her grades aren't that high and she has few other talents outside of her gift. The recruiter insists, however, that Dancia has everything they are looking for in a Delcroix student.

So, Dancia packs up and heads to Delcroix where she's reunited with both Cam, the beautiful boy who came to help recruit her, and Jack, a strange young man she saved a few days earlier using her abilities. Jack is convinced there's more to Delcroix than they would have the students believe, and as much as Dancia wants to discount him as a conspiracy theorist, she can't deny something feels off. She begins to think Jack's on to something, and starts to hope the truth about her abilities can be found at Delcroix. What she doesn't know is the truth about her gift may be more frightening than the gift itself.

A quick, enjoyable read, The Candidates is a story where we have every intention of merely reading a couple chapters only to find ourselves chanting "just one more" over and over again until we reach the conclusion. Though it's undeniably an interesting tale, there a few elements barring it from being overly memorable. The title and prologue brace us for a tale of students with supernatural abilities, however, the paranormal aspect really doesn't come into crisp focus until almost three quarters of the way through the book. Instead, we are distracted by the social ineptitude and awkwardness of Dancia as she struggles with not only the desire to fit in, but also the instinct to survive by remaining distanced–seen but not noticed and heard but never remembered. Though her fears, affections, and interactions with the other students are entertaining, the preternatural element surrounding the idea of candidacy is almost entirely forgotten until the end, clearly preparing us for a second book but at the same time denying us some explanation and understanding in the first.

Dancia is sweet and cute, her self-inflicted social isolation and her intense fear of her own capabilities making us instantly defensive and protective of her as we hope her experiences at Delcroix will bring her a sense of belonging noticeably absent for her life thus far. Her reactions to Cam, some impressive swooning and a general inability to string together coherent sentences, are a bit dramatic at times and it would have been far more interesting to read of a teenage girl able to maintain her wits in the presence of a handsome boy. That being said, the fairly drastic extent of her reactions to him, and not to Jack who is equally attractive, suggests Cam's individual gifts as a Delcroix student are perhaps influencing her when she's in close proximity. Though merely conjecture at this point, it will certainly be intriguing to see if, as the story progresses in the next book, the utter breakdown of Dancia's independent nature around Cam is in fact the result of her youthful attraction or if there is a supernatural manipulation involved.

Though Cam is a paragon of young adult male perfection, Jack is a far more fascinating character. There is a darkness to him, the markers of a difficult life draped around him like a thick curtain through which he only allows certain people to pass. His troubled history is evidenced in his air of perceived nonchalance, his rebellion against the intangible confines of rules as well as the physical enclosures of the iron gates surrounding the school, and the preference for solitude despite having the interest and affections of those around him. Dancia's treatment of him is often frustrating given she's one of the few with access to the man beneath the defensive shields; the intensity she sees in him causing her to abandon him out of fear, only to return to him when she's in need of comfort or consolation. Despite her sporadic support and friendship, Jack's loyalty to her remains unwavering, and his refusal to accept the academy's word at face value mirrors our own suspicions as to the purpose of the candidate program. Though a life on the streets has endowed him with a skin of unparalleled thickness, we have the sense that Dancia is capable of puncturing it with relative ease, making him a superb blend of strength and vulnerability, grown man and young boy, and virtue and vice.

We are left with Dancia's autonomous nature flickering to life though she remains susceptible to Cam's impressive charms, and the secrets swirling around the academy and its students having been only fractionally illuminated. Now that the silence has been broken and the right questions are being asked, the story can truly begin and I look forward to continuing the journey in the next installment.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Great review. I am looking for the second installment as well. I'm hoping that it does pick up more on the paranormal abilities and of course some more action!!

  2. Awesome review, Jenny! I've wondered a lot about this one, and for some reason it's never really appealed to me all that much. I do, however, love me some YA men, and the characters you described sound awesome, so I'm down for that! :)

  3. You've definitely piqued my interest with your detailed descriptions of the characters. I don't love it when first books read more like teasers to the story than full books in their own right, so I'm thinking I might wait until all the books in this series are published before reading. Thanks for your review. You answered all of my questions.

  4. Thanks for the review. Usually the first book in a series is always the normal philosophy is to always read book two before I decide not to continue the series...:)

  5. Savy - Me too, I wanted a little more from the supernatural side of things:)

    Melissa - The men in this one are quite enjoyable:)

    Small - Thank you! This one I could definitely wait on, I will read the second book but I'm not dying for it.

    Kelsey - I agree, there's always a lot of set up and the story gets lost sometimes. I'm intrigued though, and will definitely read book 2.

  6. Jack was my favorite part of the story; I honesty didn't like Cam. I was really put off with the way Dancia treated Jack - I hope she becomes a better friend in the following books :)

    great review Jenny!

  7. Great Review! I have to admit this one is not on my radar but when the second book comes out (which I always like the 2nd, 3rd, 4th books of a series more) then I may change my mind! I love your reviews--they really let me know what is going on so I can make an informed decision :)

  8. I really don't like it when books just leave you hanging with unanswered questions. It does sound interesting though, but I think I'll wait until the sequel comes out to read it.

  9. I think its a sign of a great book when you find yourself promising to only read one more page ..... and then another. Sounds like a promising read, thanks for recommending it.

  10. Sarah - Mine too, there was something off about Cam. And she irritated me with the way she treated Jack as well, I just didn't understand.

    Felicia - It can wait until the other books come out for sure. Glad my review could help!

    Adriana - I have high hopes for the sequel:)

    Petty - True, and despite the problems I had with it, I did want to know what happened!

  11. You know I stayed away from this one because of the cover. I kept thinking of the Vampire Academy books (I don't hate those, I've not read them). I'm not sure I'd like a swooning girl (some is fine, but too much...) but the boys sound interesting. Hmm... may wait to see what you think about the sequel. :)

  12. I'm really loving your description of the characters and I like the premise, too, so I may have to check this out. You know, after I get to all the other bazillion things I want to read and after finals.

  13. Hmm, interesting how the supernatural element takes so long to come into the picture. Honestly, the cover has turned me off from this book, and I don't think I'll pick it up... but I'm glad you mostly enjoyed it. =)

  14. Melissa - I'm not a fan of the cover either, I do find it off putting, but the boys were quite interesting!

    Aylee - Hope your finals are going well!

    Ashley - It caught me by surprise, I thought we'd know more by the time we reached the end, but hopefully book 2 will enlighten us a bit more.

  15. Hmm..I think I'll put this one on my tbr list, but I don't see myself reading it right away. Thanks for your input, Jenny.

  16. I really love reading your reviews. Even though this book only got a 3.5/5, your review makes me want to move it up on my TBR list.

  17. Nice review! Sounds like a nice easy read =D


  18. Great Review! You really have a wonderful way with words :o) I haven't heard of this title, but now I'm curious. Perhaps, I should wait until more books in this series come out before giving it a try.

  19. I have had this on my wish list forever and having read your review, I am even more excited (if that is possible) to read this book- so thanks!

  20. I really enjoyed Jack's character, but didn't see the appeal in Cam, so having Dancia constantly losing her wits when he was around got very frustrating (although as you say, that may partly be his gift). I hope we get to see more Jack in the next one, and hopefully Dancia will come to her senses! :D

  21. I actually have this novel and am anticipating reading it soon! Your review just makes me want to read it even more than I already do. :P Great review, as always, Jenny! :D

  22. I told you I would finally stop by when I was finished grading! So here I am and this book sounds like one I need! I need one that has me chanting "just one more"

  23. Rummanah - You're welcome!

    Tara - Thank you! There's always things I enjoy about every book, so I like to list both the positive and negative:)

    Larissa - Thanks, it was!

    Laura - I think it might be a good idea to wait, I think book 2 will be better:)

    Avery - You're welcome, can't wait to see what you think!

    Danya - Same here, it was Jack all the way for me. I want to see lots of him in book 2 as well:)

    Kristina - Thanks! I'll keep an eye out for your review, I always like knowing what you think since we read all the same books:)

    Natalie - Yay! Glad you're all finished:)

  24. I was unsure about this book but I think I will have to add it to my list now. Great review. Sounds like a promising new series :)

  25. I want to get this just based on the cover alone! I love coming here because I always find great new books. :)

  26. Haven't read this book yet, but I have to admit, I now have a very different impression of the story. This insightful review differs from the few others I have read, and I appreciate the candor.

    Jack sounds like the character I'd be drawn to as well. Deliciously dark and rebellious = yum! But I'm already getting frustrated because it sounds like he is taken for granted or taken advantage of, and I didn't realize the supernatural elements are reveled so late. What's the point then?

    No bueno in my...well... book! LOL

  27. Great review! I've had this one for a while now, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. For some reason, as an older reader of YA, I get this nagging feeling that this one might be a little young for me? Is it? Why am I getting this feeling?

    It sounds like it has some interesting boys though, so I might check it out soon! :)