Review: School for Psychics by K.C. Archer

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Published: 3 April 2018

Publisher: Simon Schuster

Category: Fantasy/Fiction/Paranormal

An entrancing new series starring a funny, impulsive, and sometimes self-congratulatory young woman who discovers she has psychic abilities—and then must decide whether she will use her skills for good or…not.

Teddy Cannon isn’t your typical twenty-something woman. She’s resourceful. She’s bright. She’s scrappy. She can also read people with uncanny precision. What she doesn’t realize: she’s actually psychic.

When a series of bad decisions leads Teddy to a run-in with the police, a mysterious stranger intervenes. He invites her to apply to the School for Psychics, a facility hidden off the coast of San Francisco where students are trained like Delta Force operatives: it’s competitive, cutthroat, and highly secretive. They’ll learn telepathy, telekinesis, investigative skills, and SWAT tactics. And if students survive their training, they go on to serve at the highest levels of government, using their skills to protect America, and the world.

In class, Teddy befriends Lucas, a rebel without a cause who can start and manipulate fire; Jillian, a hipster who can mediate communication between animals and humans; and Molly, a hacker who can apprehend the emotional state of another individual. But just as Teddy feels like she’s found where she might belong, strange things begin to happen: break-ins, missing students, and more. It leads Teddy to accept a dangerous mission that will ultimately cause her to question everything—her teachers, her friends, her family, and even herself.

Set in a world very much like our own, School for Psychics is the first book in a stay-up-all night series.

Rating: 1 Stars

School for Psychics begins with Teddy getting into the Bellagio casino after being banned from every casino on the Las Vegas Strip. She’s in deep with a Serbian loan shark named Sergei and needs over $200,000. Using her ability to read people, it should be easy, but something goes wrong and she finds casino security and Sergei closing in on her. All of a sudden, she’s whisked around a corner by Clint, an African American ex-cop, who tells her he’s a fellow psychic here to recruit her to the Whitfield Institute for Law Enforcement Training and Development.

This whole opening scene, with Teddy talking about how she was beating the facial recognition system and how she was reading the other card players, was interesting and I quite liked it. However, once things started going south and Clint was introduced, I thought things went far too easily. It felt like Clint should have been using his psychic power to make Teddy go along with what he was saying because so was so compliant. I wouldn’t have approved of it, but it would have been some kind of explanation for why she was so blase about his “I’m saving you from a loan shark by recruiting you to a psychic training school” shtick.

There was nothing about Teddy that made me think she would so easily go along with this explanation with next to no skepticism, almost no protestation. Her desperation for money and parental protection was one thing, but I don’t think it negated how easily she accepted being told she’s psychic, Clint’s psychic, and there’s a whole school training psychics to be in all arms of law enforcement. It’s like how I imagine a person would react if psychics were really commonplace and it was a bland subject, nothing too special anymore. Magic powers, such as they were here, didn’t have any of the specialness that they should have had considering the world they were set in.

It was actually kind of hard to like Teddy. It’s not that she was overly hard edged or cruel or anything or that nature; she was just so one dimensional that I didn’t get a real sense of personality from her. While reading, it didn’t feel like much effort had been put into developing her as a character, which was a real shame because her’s was the perspective we were getting the whole story from.

The plot felt like it was full of promise. A school for psychics that are inserted into the government at all levels? That could have been so cool. As I was reading, I got strong X-men vibes, especially with the various powers that were called psychic but could just as easily have been mutant abilities. That with the school setting, the military hanging around, the code names like Pyro, the similarities kept coming.

There was a lot of establishing time where Teddy and the others were being trained in tactical skills that was, frankly, dull. There were classes in seerology that got a bit technical manual speak for me and then some painfully slow chapters to pass the time until midterms.

All the while I kept thinking, all this time spent training psychic people and not one has ever gone rogue? Could one possibly show up and attack to make things interesting? Even setting aside the non-disclosure agreement the students sign and the mysterious punishments for breaking it, what about the psychics that don’t go to Whitfield? They don’t try to rise up and protest the government controlling their fellow powered people? By the time even a hint about this even makes sense, by the time there’s a whisper, the book is practically done and I just don’t care anymore. The pacing and plot development was all wrong for whatever kind of impact might have made this an enjoyable book. As it it stands, this book managed to take all the fun out of having powers.

Along the same lines as wondering why no psychics seemed to rise up or go rogue or anything of the sort was what happens to the students that get kicked out of Whitfield? What about the ones that don’t make it in? The ones that don’t have the physical abilities the school requires? None of that seems to get addressed.

Everyone in the book is either fit when they get to the school, having been recruited from the police academy or similar, or they’re next to perfect within a couple of months. I find it highly unlikely that there are no psychics with disabilities or that can’t run SWAT team obstacle courses and with that comes the question, what happens to them and the reject students? It’s like casting out students with the possibility for severe mental illness (see: Teddy’s ‘epilepsy’) and forgetting about them. That’s cruel.

One of things I found most confusing about School for Psychics that didn’t have to do with the story itself is how the reader is supposed to regard this book with relation to its genre. Who is this book for? Who is it being marketed towards? If I’m to go by the genres listed under its Amazon page, then it would be fantasy, fiction, paranormal. If I go by the shelve names people have used on Goodreads, young adult might pop up there too. After reading the book myself, I have to say that K.C. Archer’s book does not have a clear identity.

The story itself, the ages of the characters, the situations they’re in, these are things I’d expect in a new adult/adult novel at the very least. Teddy herself is twenty-four years old, so young adult isn’t accurate. However, her mannerisms and the those of the other students (Molly, Jillian, Pyro, etc.) at Whitfield were much more in line with what I would expect to see in characters that are six to ten years younger. It’s like the author wrote a young adult novel and then aged everyone up a few years for some reason? It’s an odd situation that will, I think, cause confusion among people that are strictly fans of either young adult or adult fiction and aren’t fans of books that muddy the waters.

There’s a certain expectation I had going into School for Psychics based on the summary and it did nothing to live up to it’s promises. Boring execution, plot threads that unraveled the closer you looked at them, a story that made super powers mind numbingly dull, and a cast that I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to add up to a book I will not be recommending to anyone.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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