(Minor spoiler warning!)
Is it possible to be too lucky?
According to his best friend, Tommy, 12-year-old Jackson Opus was born with “a giant horseshoe up [his] diaper.” Girls love him, he got elected to student council, he shutdown the best basketball player in the league, and that’s just the beginning. When Jax begins to experience out-of-body visions, his good fortune gets out of control. Without realizing it, he influences a bus driver to speed out of control and convinces his psychiatrist to try to jump out of a window.
Jax decides he must be going crazy, until he gets a letter from Dr. Elias Mako inviting him to attend the Sentia Institute. He learns that he has the ability to hypnotize people, and that he’s not alone. At first, his biggest concern is proving himself to the daunting Dr. Mako and fitting in with Sentia’s less-than-friendly students. Soon, however, he learns that he comes from two ancient lines of hypnotists, and that he might just be one of the most powerful hypnotists in the world.
Sentia claims to be a community-minded research institution, but he doesn’t see how the experiments he takes part in could benefit the greater good. He meets a strange old man, Axel Braintree, who is the president of a recovery group for hypnotists, or as they call them, sandmen. Braintree warns Jax that Dr. Mako is not what he seems.
Jax ignores the warning at first, but soon learns that Mako and his Sentia Institute will stop at nothing to achieve their evil goals. Korman, author of such diverse books as Schooled, the Kidnapped trilogy and Nose Pickers from Outerspace!, has made the beginnings of another action-packed series sure to hook middle readers. Full of twists and turns, colorful characters and a premise with obvious discussion potential. How would the world be different if we could influence other people’s thoughts and actions? Are entertainment firms already doing something akin to that today? This is a great start to a new series, with some major reluctant-reader appeal. (Grades 3-7) (Release July 30, 2013)
A.L. Meter: 4/5