Tragedy propels Bobby Ether into a tangled web of conspiracy and lies.
After a violent earthquake wakes 16-year-old Bobby up in the middle of the night, he learns that the nightmare he’d been having was true: His parents really were in a violent car crash. What happens next is straight out of a suspense movie: Bobby is kidnapped and whisked away to the Jade Academy, situated in an occupied monastery in Tibet. Far from his Los Angeles home, Bobby learns that he is an exso, an awakened person who has amazing abilities. He can tap into anima—a life energy similar to the Chinese concept of qi—that connects him with all creatures on the planet. According to Headmistress Grayson, Bobby has been brought there to cultivate his special abilities. He is assigned to work with a monk, but his lack of progress frustrates Bobby. Fortunately, a motley crew of peers support and help him on his journey. With their assistance, Bobby decodes a puzzle and discovers that the academy is not all that it seems. A likable protagonist, engaging banter, and a fast-paced plot will appeal to teens. Unfortunately the worldbuilding is thin in places and the development of secondary characters is weak, sometimes veering into stereotype. In addition to the Chinese and Tibetan characters, Bobby and several others are white, and one student is brown-skinned.
A fun, quick read that adds little to the genre. (Science fiction. 14-18)