Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Premise: Crazy things happen whenever Jackson Opus is around. When Jackson is recruited into a special program for hypnotists, he learns to hone his mind-bending powers, but also discovers that hypnotizing people can be a dangerous business.

Title: The Hypnotists
Author: Gordon Korman
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Series or Stand Alone: Book 1 in a new series
Content Appropriate For: Grades 4-7
Format: ARC provided by Scholastic via NetGalley.

Three adjectives that describe this book: addictive, exciting, believable

Usually I wait a few days after reading a book to write up my review so that I can marinate on it for a bit, but I finished this book about 15 minutes ago and I feel compelled to write about it - RIGHT NOW! I find Gordon Korman's novels to be really hit or miss. My students and I really enjoy some of his titles, but find others tedious and dull. The Hypnotists definitely falls into the first category of Korman's works. This is probably my favorite Korman novel ever.

The Hypnotists opens with page-turning excitement that will grab readers with a firm grip. The first scene is a crazy action sequence that follows a bus careening down New York City's busy streets with the driver under accidental hypnosis. The next sequence follows Jackson's basketball team in the league's championship game. The opposing team's star player can't seem to make a shot. You guessed it -Jackson accidentally hypnotized him.

With an opening like that, even reluctant readers will be jumping in head first. The final third of the book is just as exciting, but the middle section of the novel fades a bit.

In addition to a mostly action-packed plot, what really sold me on The Hypnotists was that it made me think. This novel is so packed with interesting questions of history and morality - How would the world be different if we could influence other people's thoughts and actions? To what extent do advertising and the media do that already? Is it okay to use manipulation if it's for a good cause?

Bottom line: This book is a great start to a new series. It includes the best elements of Korman's earlier work (adventure, colorful characters) and should entertain middle grade readers.
4 stars

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