Reviews

The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted, by Conor Grennan

constant2m's review against another edition

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5.0

The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted was one of the most exceptional books I've read this year. It does check all the boxes of my favorite categories: Middle Grade, Christian, fantasy/science fiction. Several other reviewers wrote that this was Hunger Games, Divergent, X-Men, and Harry Potter all rolled into one. It is definitely a book for anyone who loves those, but simultaneously so different from any of them.

The intrigue began on the first page when Jack sits through his best friend's history presentation, which sounds exactly like a conspiracy theory, as is always the case with Freddy. Freddy describes the Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted, which he learned about on the dark web, and even shows the class a map of the island it's on. The academy is, of course, invisible to ordinary mortals. Embarrassed by his friend's presentation, Jack asks to use the bathroom and is immediately pursued by some strange beings, rescued by an old acquaintance, and brought to...The Hadley Academy. This opening is genius because the story could have so easily gone in two directions. One, the academy was all in Freddy's head and he and Jack were both ordinary middle schoolers. Two, the academy is real and Jack and Freddy actually end up there. I would have read either of those stories but was enthralled by the world-building in this one.

At the academy, Jack quickly learns about different kinds of giftings and the strengths and weaknesses innate to each. He also realizes that he isn't gifted. And neither are his new friends who are brought in to be part of his team. They have three days for their gifts to awaken or they will be removed from the academy and their memories of the three days, as well as their former lives, will be wiped. And the adventure begins.

The story continued, with every event, every person, and every conversation being tied together as crucial parts of the saga. I had to read back several times, not because I lost interest, but because I had to make sure I remembered previous conversations that tied in to present moments. Fabulous storytelling! Also, despite the ending being part happily ever after and part cliff hanger (but not so you'll lose sleep over it), this was a complete story with all the wonderful twists and turns that story entailed.

Something beautiful about this story, something that seems to be unique to Christian fantasy, was the idea that you can believe in something impossible without evidence. Christians are sometimes accused of this and mocked for it, but when you see it play out in real life, it often begins a beautiful story. Jack's story began that way. There was nothing remarkable about him. But one person believed he was the boy who was prophesied. And that belief started a chain of events that led to everyone eventually seeing who Jack was. But there was no reason to believe Jack was anyone special in the beginning.

There were many other beautiful moments in the story, but I'll share two more. First, there is the saying, "trusting someone is more important than believing them" (219). I had never thought about this before, but it's true. There are people who tell incredible stories that I would still trust with my life. There are others who always tell the truth, but who I still can't trust. This maxim, which appeared several times in the story, is a good reminder of what truly matters most. Second, the way gifts were treated was poignant. When Jack first arrived at the academy, one of the teachers told him, "Everyone is born with a gift. Improbables ignore what the world tells them. They risk looking different, looking strange, in order to explore their gift. That is true courage" (21) Later on, a young boy said something similar: "I am human, and every human is born with a gift. I have chosen to use mine" (277). This is something else we often forget. We are all gifted. Maybe our gifts don't fit the mold of what we think gifts look like or what we want them to be, but we are all gifted. Like the boy, may we choose to use our gifts.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and have reviewed it willingly.

curlybookgeek's review against another edition

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4.0

Very cute middle grades book

christygsp's review against another edition

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5.0

I happened upon this book by chance, and I'm so glad I decided to read it!
I don't mind a good YA, and particularly a good YA fantasy, so I was really excited to read this one - and hoping it had a solid plot to hold my 20-something year old attention. It absolutely did.

I have to admit, that I was able to guess most of the ending about a third of the way in, but I was excited to continue and find out if I was right.
I thought it was a supremely clever idea/plot, and enjoyed stumbling along with the characters - who were all newbies to the world of the Hadley Academy and Improbables (as was the reader).

I enjoyed the characters, though I would have liked more of some.
I loved the ending (which I predicted anyway). I did find that sometimes the information felt more like an intense info dump of important stuff, and I had to take a few breathers! haha

If there are more coming, I'm totally on board. If not, I enjoyed this book so much that it doesn't really matter.

aleonard's review against another edition

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adventurous dark tense medium-paced

4.0

pastaviking's review against another edition

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4.0

This was a nice surprise--exciting story, descriptive, and imaginative with succinct writing. Still kids behaving as adults (and pretty impossible to believe, if you stop and think about it...); but still entertaining read.

I still get annoyed when white authors keep calling out the racial characters of certain characters ("a strong black boy appeared...") while every other (white) character just gets to be described by their character and not race. It's subtle, but still.

readfineprint's review against another edition

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5.0

I met Connor Grennan on the interwebs and we share some common goals as authors. One was a goal to get published, and he has reached his excellently!(Maybe 2020 will be my year!

librarianlayla's review against another edition

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4.0

I received a copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5/4 stars.

A fast paced action mystery, a prophecy that needs to come to pass and a group of misfits forced to bond under immense pressure.

Fans of X-Men, The Hunger Games and Divergent will enjoy this book immensely.

If I had anything negative to say, I feel that the story feels a little rushed. More time could have been spent on the characters, their interactions, how their connections form and grow.

This is certainly a story that gets better the further you delve into it. The last quarter really tied everything together.

This would make a fantastic movie though as there is a lot of action scenes.

books_tea_healthy_me's review against another edition

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4.0

Make yourself comfortable when you pick up The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted because this book is hard to put down once you get started. With creatively crafted characters and a fast-paced story line, you will want to just keep reading, and then when it's over, you will beg for more!

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

em_and_em's review against another edition

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2.0

Earc from netgalley

This book was nothing special. It dragged on and on and on. Maybe i'm just not the right audience, but there are other books like it that are better. It also seemed to rush through and drag at the same time. 2 stars.

annarella's review against another edition

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5.0

An amazing story full of amazing characters and with an excellent world building.
I loved it and I read it as fast as I could.
It's engrossing and entertaining and the world building is excellent.
I hope to read soon another instalment in this series.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.