Book Review: The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

I20160623_123159-1 received this book for free as part of a Kellogg’s cereal giveaway. There were several books to choose from, but I chose this one because I’d already read works by this author and was interested in how he’d write for a slightly younger readership.

For me, this was a fast summer read, and I found myself wanting to finish. For some middle grade or YA works, I find myself wanting to finish just to say I could. But this book actually had me willingly turning the pages.

The book follows a kid named Jax, who has weird color-changing eyes. He lives in New York City, and as the book opens, people are acting really weird around him. It turns out, he can use those eyes to hypnotize others. He is invited to an institution led by Dr. Mako, who tells Jax he is studying hypnotists. There is one simple rule: don’t use hypnosis for personal gain. Of course, things don’t stay that simple. I won’t spoil more of the plot, but I enjoyed the mix of teenage (or tweenage) drama, politics, foils, deceit, and sleuthing.

I also appreciated how the author included a bit of humor and intrigue by claiming that Jax’s family (and their talent for hypnosis) has been responsible for most historical events, even though they weren’t given credit (implying that hypnotism is responsible for much more than we realize). It broadened the scope of the novel for me, even if fictional.

I also enjoyed the voice. It was accessible, and although a grown-up reading the novel may find it easy to predict what is happening, a middle grade reader is given just the right amount of foreshadowing and clues. Jax is like most archetypal heroes. He is born from the correct bloodline and placed in the right place at the right time. At printing, there was another book in the series, and although I don’t feel compelled to rush out and read it, I would definitely recommend this book (and the series) to my kid when she gets old enough.

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