cover image The Ability

The Ability

M.M. Vaughan, illus. by Iacapo Bruno. S&S/McElderry, $15.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5200-8

Christopher Lane lives in a dilapidated house in London with his deeply depressed, widowed mother. Constantly in trouble and reduced to stealing money to buy groceries, Chris is stunned when he passes a very unusual interview and is accepted into an exclusive boarding school. Myers Holt Academy is actually a secret project of the English government to train students in the Ability: telepathy, telekinesis, accelerated learning, and other amazing feats only possible when kids turn 12 and gain access to the brain’s complete potential for a single year. Myers Holt was shut down 30 years ago after a failed mission, but when a villain starts targeting the program’s veterans, Chris and his five classmates are recruited to reopen the school and stop the attacks. Vaughan’s debut has some occasionally stilted prose and plausibility gaps, but readers will enjoy the candy-shop wish fulfillment in this fast-paced, superhero-tinged spy novel. With its comics-style origin stories and vows of revenge, this first book in a planned series has an intriguing concept that could hit a middle-grade sweet spot. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Apr.)