After a sheltered and lonely childhood on an old-fashioned farm, Piper’s gift is discovered and she is sent to a special facility for gifted children like herself. At first she is ecstatic – the food is terrific and best of all, there are lots of other kids, each of whom has a unique ability. A pair of twins can control weather, a girl is super-strong, another girl has mastered telekinesis, and a boy named Conrad is super-intelligent. But all is not as it seems, and it turns out that this institute – run by the formidable Dr. Hellion – is has a downright sinister mission.
Although this is a well-written and fast-paced book, it was not wholly satisfying, mainly because seemed to be trying to be several different books at once. As I mentioned, the folksy charm of the first few chapters reminded me of Savvy and even a little bit of Chicken Feathers by Joy Cowley. Then suddenly the action shifts to the comfortable yet sterile atmosphere of Dr. Hellion’s institute, which feels like The Little Princess meets The Mysterious Benedict Society meets Brainboy and the Deathmaster. In other words, this is a fantasy that transforms into a science-fiction novel halfway through, and it discombobulated me just a tad. This might not have been so bad if Piper had seemed more real or convincing – but she never really came alive for me.
It’s an entertaining story, but it’s not the first book I would recommend to either a fantasy or SF fan. However, I’m looking forward to the next book by this talented first-time author.