(Note: Bec's blurb reviews are book reviews done by my wife, Rebecca. She reads about 1000x faster than me, so she gets through a lot of books before I can even finish one. She's going to provide brief reviews of these books, which I will post for your reading pleasure! Here is the first one!)
By Inara Scott
The Candidates by Inara Scott is essentially X-Men meets Harry Potter (author's description, not mine). How could you go wrong? Danica, the protagonist, has one main goal in life: to blend in so well that everyone knows who she is but nobody knows anything about her. So no friends: that way it is easier for her to hide the fact that when she sees someone she cares about in a dangerous situation, sometimes things just happen... and there are too many coincidences for it to be anything but her own doing. That all changes when she gets the chance of a lifetime: a full ride scholarship to the ritzy private school on the outskirts of town. Suddenly she fits in... mostly. But not all is as it seems at this too-good-to-be-true school, and it's not just the creepy gates that lock you in and the crazy strict rules.
This book seems to me to be very much character driven, and I must admit, I found Danica to be a very sympathetic, likable protagonist. She isn't perfect, but in ways that seem natural instead of forced, and it's interesting to watch her blossom in her new environment. As far as secondary characters go, Cam feels a little flat to me until the last few chapters when we finally get to see more of him than the shiny perfect front; I'm hoping that in future books we get a more in depth look at his character. (I also hope Danica learns how to think coherently when she's around him.) Jack was a little more interesting, but I wanted more screen time for him to really get to know more about him... Again, if I get it in the sequels that works; right now the lack of information we have on him lends an air of mystery to him (but not so much mystery that you are going crazy).
Really my only issue I had with this book is the whole romance aspect. I have found very few books in which I actually like a love triangle; they usually drive me nuts. As love triangles go, this one isn't awful - I mean, at least some of her decisions/actions make sense in the end - but it was still my least favorite part of the book. If you like love triangles you'll likely disagree with me, as is your prerogative. I'm not going to say too much more (I don't want to spoil anything) but I think a having a little more character development among the secondary characters earlier on in the book would have made me more pleased with the ending.
Overall this was a fast, interesting read. Nothing objectionable as far as content goes; it will likely be enjoyable for anyone 10+ (including adults).
(Nathan's Note: I actually met this author at World Fantasy and had a wonderful discussion with her about first-time books [this is her debut novel] as well as her experiences at fantasy conventions. She is a very nice person and we got the book for free, so you should check it out!)