New school and new mental powers meet ancient mysteries and ancient war.
Fifteen-year-old Will West’s parents have moved him around a lot, and his father’s taught him 99 rules to live by. One of the most important rules: Don't draw attention to yourself. When Will accidentally draws the attention of (and a scholarship from) the prestigious Center for Integrated Learning, it’s a lucky thing, because his world shatters; he needs an avenue of escape. Arriving at the school, Will finds the mystery back home deepening. Who is he? And is his father safe? He makes new friends, and all of them must face an ever-widening net of conspiracies that make them question everything they know about reality and the history of the world. Twin Peaks co-creator Frost’s first for young readers is a slick, hot mess of Judeo-Cthulhu-an, sci-fantasy palaver. The constant quoting of Dad’s rules wears thin early on. Will’s interactions with a helpful taxi driver from home while at school are stupefyingly improbable. The tale stumbles at nearly every turn: The plotting is clumsy, the dialogue is unrealistic, and the characters so annoying readers will be rooting for the bad guys. The fantasy elements are interesting enough, but they’re strangled in an overabundance of detail and long-winded, extraneous scenes, making this twice as long as it should be—especially given the “Book 1” on the spine.
Superficial adventure with arbitrary authorial intrusions at every plot twist. (Fantasy. 12-16)