The Exceptionals

( 18 )

Overview

Born into a famous family of exceptionally talented people, fifteen-year-old Claire Walker has deliberately chosen to live an average life. But everything changes the night of the Spring Fling, when her parents decide it's high time she transferred to Cambial Academy?the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities.

Despite her attempts to blend in, Claire stands out at Cambial simply because she is normal. But ...

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Overview

Born into a famous family of exceptionally talented people, fifteen-year-old Claire Walker has deliberately chosen to live an average life. But everything changes the night of the Spring Fling, when her parents decide it's high time she transferred to Cambial Academy?the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities.

Despite her attempts to blend in, Claire stands out at Cambial simply because she is normal. But unbeknownst to her new friends, she has a powerful gift she considers too lame to admit. Suddenly, the most talented students in school?the Exceptionals?begin to disappear. In an attempt to find out what happened to them, Claire comes across a prophecy foretelling a mysterious girl who will use her ability to save Cambial students from a dire fate. Could she be that girl? Claire decides there is only one way to find out: she must embrace her ability once and for all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The long shadow of Harry Potter looms over Cashman’s debut, a fantasy novel set at Cambial Academy, a boarding school for “special” students who can see the future, move objects with their minds, and so on. The idyllic school has a dark past: a former teacher once tried to subvert students for maniacal schemes. Fifteen-year-old protagonist Claire Walker presents herself as an ordinary girl at a school of freaks, but it’s a lie. Claire understands animals’ thoughts; she just won’t admit it. While other students work on honing their “specials,” Claire wanders in the woods, meeting a mysterious guy named Dylan who questions her relentlessly, but slips away before anyone else sees him. When the school’s top students begin disappearing, the pressure is on Claire to master her repressed “special” and discover the truth about Dylan. It’s a pleasant read, and while too much derives from the Potter universe and superhero teams like the X-Men, Cashman knows how to craft natural dialogue and empathetic characters. Ages 12–up. Agent: Erica Spellman-Silverman, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Claire thinks her world is ending the night of the prom when she and her friends are arrested for having alcohol in the car. Although she swears she was not drinking, her parents take her out of Lakeville High School and send her to Cambial Academy where they are headmasters. Her brother and sister go to school there, but like the others students, they have special powers. Claire's only special ability is understanding what animals are thinking, but she has long pretended she did not have a special ability because she thinks hers is worthless. She hates the thought of attending Cambial, but soon begins to fit in with the others. She even meets Dylan, a very handsome young man she sees in the forest. Then gifted students begin to disappear. Her parents are acting mysteriously and leave on a top secret mission. Could Dylan have something to do with the disappearances? Claire soon learns of a prophecy that a girl who communicates with animals saves the school from those who want to destroy it. She is successful but dies in the process. Could Claire be that girl? If so, does she have the courage to save her family and friends? Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Fifteen-year-old Claire Walker comes from a long line of exceptional people: mind readers, clairvoyants, mediums, telepaths, and mathematical geniuses. Unfortunately her special talent, hearing the thoughts of animals, doesn't rate quite highly enough to earn her entrance into Cambial Academy, a school for exceptionally talented young people that her great-grandfather founded, her siblings attend, and where the family lives since both her parents work there. However, when a disciplinary infraction forces Claire's parents to enroll her in the Academy, a series of mysterious disappearances sets off a chain of destruction long foretold in the visions of the clairvoyants. Claire must use her exceptional skill to discover the missing students and save her school, her family, and her home. Debut novelist Cashman delivers an engaging, exciting twist on the school story, introducing readers to a whole new set of supernatural skills and adventures. With its varied and intriguing cast of characters, The Exceptionals will appeal to a wide range of readers, all of whom will be eager to see if there will be forthcoming adventures at Cambial Academy.—Sara Saxton, Wasilla Meta-Rose Public Library, Wasilla, AK
Kirkus Reviews
Mysterious goings-on at a boarding school for paranormally talented students feel very, very familiar. Alone in her family, Claire is unexceptional. While Claire has attended the public high school, telekinetic brother Billy and medium sister Charlotte go to Cambial, a boarding school for children with paranormal abilities, and her parents (father: code breaker; mother: truth seeker) are administrators there. A night of partying gone wrong finds her enrolled at Cambial. She quickly settles in with teachers and students, most agreeable, some not. But it turns out she is exceptional after all: She can hear animals' thoughts. While secretly practicing in the woods, she encounters Dylan, a mysterious and "exceptionally handsome" young man with "long, dark eyelashes framing beautiful green eyes." Even as the students prep for the annual telekinesis tournament, some of their most talented begin to disappear. It appears an enemy of Cambial is not dead but instead determined to bring it down. It will take a Chosen One to thwart him. Well-worn characters and plot churn their way toward a climax with the deranged villain, who explains his entire plot to the gathered protagonists. Readers will likely find Claire's embarrassingly instantaneous attraction to Dylan both stupid and distasteful. Claire's entertaining exchanges with a campus cat stand out as fresh and enjoyable; the rest is painfully derivative. (Paranormal romance/mystery. 11-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823423354
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 - 15 Years
  • Lexile: 630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Erin Cashman graduated from Bates College with a degree in English and from Boston College Law School. She lives in Massachusetts.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I know most of us know who the X-men are? But what if there real

    I know most of us know who the X-men are? But what if there really was a school for gifted children, not mutants, that were "special" from others. Had unique abilities that they could work on becoming stronger at, used for good and not evil and they could attend a school designed to help them in those abilities as well as the standard high school subjects as well?

    Well look no further than Cambial Academy! That's just what you will discover if you are lucky enough to be chosen to attend this school. A gated community where students can live in dorms and get through high school feeling like normal kids but there aren't really. They each possess unique abilities such as the ability to move objects, read minds, break codes, see into the future and other special attributes. They are given a special class to attend where they work on strengthening those abilities and at times are called to work for the government if the need arises.

    However something sinister is going on and the talented students known as Exceptionals are being kidnapped. No one is seeing anything and one by one the students are vanishing. Now the administrators are being called into action and Claire Walker, the daughter of the founders feels she might be the only one who can figure out what is happening. Her unique gift is the ability to talk to animals and she's only told her brother Billy because her parents don't consider this gift to be of any use. Now however when her close friends disappear one by one, Claire decides to use her special abilities to help locate her missing friends before it's too late.

    In the young adult novel, The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman, the reader is transported into the life of Claire Walker who is being sent to Cambial Academy as a punishment since she managed to get in trouble for attending her Spring Fling and having beer in the car at Lakeville High School. She didn't know that one of her friends had it and now her parents, who both work at Cambial Academy feel she is wasting her time with the wrong crowd. Feeling less than worthy, Claire tries to fit in, and because her abilities are what her parents consider special, she tells them she can't do it any longer. Until, she learns how to control her ability and really listen to what the animals in the forest surrounding the school can tell her. This is a perfect story for young adults, ages 11 and up because who hasn't dealt with being unpopular, having issues communicating with parents and wanting to believe super powers are possible. If this sounds like your child, then they will love this book.

    I received The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review. Having a 13-year-old daughter and even remembering how I wished books like this existed when I was younger, I just knew I had to read this one. I've always dreamed of what it would be like to read animals thoughts and even talk to them. If your child loves Super Heroes, like The Avengers or the X-Men, then this will be the perfect action-packed adventure for them. I rate this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to share this one with my daughter! Who hasn't wished for the ability to read minds, or to see into the future? Well in this book, all that is possible and more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    my grand daughter asks me to read this I did and in my opinion I

    my grand daughter asks me to read this I did and in my opinion I cant wait for the next book Bob H

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    Erin Cashman has done a superb job with her first book. The susp

    Erin Cashman has done a superb job with her first book. The suspense and plot kept me hungry to keep reading while the character development was detailed and well written. As a middle school teacher, I know how hard it can be to get students interested in reading. I will certainly be reccommending the Exceptionals to my students. Claire, Camibal Academy and all the suspense and adventure that unravels within will certainly engage many a "non reader".

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  • Posted April 28, 2012

    An Exceptional Read

    I truly enjoyed reading The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman. I was immediately engrossed in the characters of the story and the plot's twists and turns. The novel wonderfully blends elements of romance, mystery, adventure, friendship and family. This page turner is extremely well written and I would highly recommend it people of all ages. Congratulations to Erin Cashman on her first published novel and I hope there are many more in the future!

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    I really enjoyed The Exceptionals! This is a terrific story and

    I really enjoyed The Exceptionals! This is a terrific story and a great family adventure - fun read for all ages. I'm a fan of fantasy novels and loved the adventure, magic and suspense. I love having a strong, intelligent female main character, but the great cast of school friends makes the story appealing to both boys and girls. I would highly recommend if you're looking for something in the Harry Potter or The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel genre.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    A Must Read

    Very well written, can't put the book down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    I have just read a book named The Exceptionals, written by a Ms


    I have just read a book named The Exceptionals, written by a Ms Erin Cashman. The book was written for teenagers (ages 11 & up) , and its been many decades since I have been a teenager. However, my granddaughter so raved about the book, I thought I'd read it. Then I could spend time discussing it with her. Well, to my surprise I loved it,. Ms. Cashman has written about teenagers who can do exceptional things only to be threatened by dark forces instigated by power, envy, and madness. Then comes, Claire Walker, our heroine, who believes her abilities to be modest compared to her friends. Little does she know. So, together with her friends, she takes on the forces of evil.
    It is a good read. Take it from one who has read many books over the years. I sign this anonymous only because I don't want the lads at the pub to know I read a kids book.

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  • Posted March 18, 2012

    I just finished my second read of The Exceptionals, the first (h

    I just finished my second read of The Exceptionals, the first (hopefully of many!) titles to come from Erin Cashman. Cashman has something for every young reader here - intrigue, romance, mystery and above all, an incredibly creative and engaging narrative. As a parent of two teens, I have tried to keep up on whats out there for them to read. Cashman's entry into the genre sets a bar for others to follow.
    Especially appreciated is the fact that the main character in The Exceptionals is a girl. The genre is loaded with boys and Cashman's Claire is a refreshing twist. Make no mistake about it though - this is not a "girl book" as much as it is a treat for any fan of YA fiction; for any teen who has ever tried to stuff down what makes them unique.
    Looking forward to the next novel by this exciting new writer!

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  • Posted March 5, 2012

    I love fantasy, so I had high hopes for The Exceptionals, and I

    I love fantasy, so I had high hopes for The Exceptionals, and I wasn’t disappointed. Like a lot of the other reviewers, I loved the unique concept – these teens aren’t supernatural, they can just use a greater percentage of their minds. Cool. The novel was very well written. Erin Cashman has an incredible imagination, and she’s a master at suspense. I loved everything about Cambial Academy; the classes, the tournaments and most importantly, the friendships. The characters were all very memorable. The romance between Claire and Dylan had me riveted. They were drawn to each other, and I kept rooting for them to get together. I loved that Claire didn’t sit around crying about him, or feeling sorry for herself. She’s such a strong character. There were lots of plot twists, which I really like, and Cashman kept me guessing right up until the very end if Claire was going to live or die.

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  • Posted March 2, 2012

    Fast-Paced Page-Turner!

    The Exceptionals is fabulous. It is that perfect mix of fantasy, romance and suspense. It’s about fifteen year old Claire Walker, a seemingly average girl born in a family of gifted people. You see, Claire’s great-grandfather, a math and science genius, founded Cambial Academy, a school for exceptional students. There are plenty of math and science geniuses there, but there are other, more unique students too – mediums, clairvoyants, teens who can practice telekinesis. All these “powers”, aren’t supernatural, but these kids can use a greater percentage of their mind than most. What a cool idea! Since Claire can’t prove hers – she can hear the thoughts of animals – and because her parents are dismissive of it, she lies and says she can’t hear them anymore, and attends public high school.

    But as soon as she makes a mistake, her parents yank her out and send her to Cambial. As Claire finally makes friends, and begins to work on her special, the Exceptionals – the most talented kids at the school – start to disappear. Claire realizes her power might be the key to unraveling the mystery.

    I loved many things about this book. Claire’s journey, from an average girl to one who learns to believe in herself, and trust her instincts, was riveting. I loved Claire’s special. Her relationship with Ferana (a hawk) was so beautifully written that it seemed natural. And the scenes between Claire and Tabby – a campus cat were so fresh and funny. None of the characters were perfect, nor was Claire’s family, which I really liked. Claire’s fights with her tough-as-nails mother were perfect! I also loved the setting, the woods and the grounds of Cambial. But what I liked best about it was that it is so different than anything I’ve read in a long time.

    I would give this book an A+!

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  • Posted March 1, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    The Exceptionals is a fabulous YA fantasy novel. It tells the story of Claire Walker, a fifteen year old girl. When she gets in a bit of trouble at high school, her parents force her to attend Cambial Academy, a boarding school founded by her great-grandfather, where both her parents teach. Claire hates Cambial, calling it a school for freaks. The reader soon discovers that Cambial is NOT a school for people with supernatural powers -- no wizards, werewolves or vampires here – but a school for people who use a greater percentage of their brain. Their powers come from their mind. How original! I loved that idea.

    As Claire adjusts to life at Cambial, she begins to work on her long ignored “special” – she can hear the thoughts of animals. She hasn’t admitted it in years, knowing she can’t prove it, and fearing people would think she was a fraud. With the help of her brother, Billy, she slowly improves. While practicing on her own in the woods she meets a gorgeous guy named Dylan – and the attraction between the two of them is immediate and intense. It’s not overdone at all. For the first time in a long while Claire is happy. She has great friends she doesn’t have to keep secrets from, she likes school, and she is thrilled to be working on her special. But then she learns about forbidden talents, and a graduate of the school disappears. And then one by one the most talented students – the members of The Exceptional Society – go missing. Her parents leave to investigate, and then they disappear as well.

    Claire realizes her special might be the key to unraveling the disappearances, and eventually she learns to communicate with Ferana, a majestic hawk. These scenes are breathtaking. As she unravels the mystery, she discovers that she is at the center of a prophesy, and she alone can save her family.

    To say this book is a page turner is an understatement. From page one I got swept away by the story, and I read the last 80 pages at one sitting – I had to know what happened! Each character was unique and interesting, and I loved Claire, what a strong female character! Dylan was the perfect mysterious bad boy, too. In short this book had it all, fantasy, suspense, romance, and parts were even very funny! So I rate The Exceptionals a must rea

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  • Posted February 29, 2012

    Wow! A must read!

    I really loved this book. To me it combined some of my favorite parts of Harry Potter, like the boarding school for kids with special abilities, and the fun of the Telekenisis Tournament, and the romance of Twilight. I immediately got caught up in Cambial Academy (what a fun place to go to school!), and loved seeing the kids work on their specials. As soon as I got to the part about forbidden specials, I had to keep reading! Claire’s friends were great, I especially loved Winny! What a hoot!  And the parts with Claire and her mother fighting were very realistic. I liked that her family wasn’t perfect, and they weren’t awful, either. Charlotte – miss goody-two shoes – was so funny. And then there was the romance. As much as I really liked Henry, Claire and Dylan were just perfect together.  The plot was not at all predictable, it kept me guessing until the end.  So I would rate this book a solid A! I’m really hoping for a sequel!!

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  • Posted February 29, 2012

    My daughter loved this book!

    The Exceptionals is one of the best YA books my daughter has read in a long time. It is such a unique concept, that some people use a greater percentage of their mind, and have special abilities. It is set in a New England boarding school, Cambial Academy, where these special teenagers come to learn to develop their abilities. So there are mediums, and code breakers, science and math geniuses, clairvoyants, people who are telekinetic, and our heroine, Claire. At the start of the book Claire can hear the thoughts of animals – but that’s it. As she learns to believe in herself and trust her instincts, her special improves, and eventually she can communicate with a hawk. Here it could get corny, but Erin Cashman writes these scenes so beautifully, it was one of my favorite parts of the novel.

    Cambial itself is so richly detailed by Cashman. I wish I went to school there! Classes outside, fun experiments, and the contests – what a blast! The Telekenisis Tournament was great fun, and the setting for one of my other favorite scenes – when two of Claire’s best friends disappear in the mist. My heart was pounding right along with Claire’s!

    And speaking of heart pounding . . .I loved the immediate connection between Claire and Dylan, and every scene between them.

    This book has something for everyone – fantasy, romance, suspense and adventure. Read The Exceptionals – you won’t be disappointed.

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  • Posted February 13, 2012

    Loved this book!

    Fell into this book and didn't want to come back out! Claire came alive to me with a very real sounding voice. Her conflict with her mother felt authentic. Loved the school setting and the cast of characters. I especially loved Claire's connection to the hawk and all the other "specials". All the supernatural elements felt so real and fell into place so organically. Engrossing, emotional, intriguing, with just the right touch of romance. I just hope there's a sequel...? More please!

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  • Posted February 9, 2012

    A gem of a story

    The Exceptionals is the debut novel of Erin Cashman. This is a gem of a story from start to finish, with excellent narrative flow, excitement and drama. She has managed to capture the combination of suspense, discovery, and action as well a love interest. Her characters are all fascinating, each one with his or her own special power and the descriptions are vivid and imaginative. Claire's interaction with the animals, in particular the hawks, was especially endearing. It was a page turner as the plot thickened and Claire found herself at the centre of a prophecy, which meant life or death for her.

    I would recommend this book to young adults (and even those not so young) who enjoy reading fantasy novels. It is truly imaginative and very original.

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  • Posted February 9, 2012

    Simply Exceptional

    I really enjoyed this book. As soon as I read the prologue I was hooked, I was dying to know how Claire ended up dying, and more interestingly, why she didn't have any regrets. I am a big fan of YA fantasy, but the Exceptionals is very different. The students at Cambial Academy are special, because they can us a greater percentage of their mind. So some are mediums, some can do telekinesis, some are math whizzes...it was really intriguing. I loved the setting, the writing is very descriptive so I could imagine it perfectly.

    The best thing about the book was definitely the characters, especially Claire. As she learns to develop her unique special-communicating with animals-she starts to believe in herself. She's really a strong character-not at all whinny, or weak. Her friends are great,
    especially Winny, she is a great character! But the scenes with Claire and Dylan, and their fledging romance, were my favorites. I loved that everything came together in the end, in a very natural way, not at all forced. Overall The Exceptionals is an Exceptional book!!!

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  • Posted February 3, 2012

    Great read and interesting topic!

    I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book at first, the whole communicating with animals thing sounded a bit hokey. But I heard a lot of good things about it, so I decided to give it a try. The author had me at the prologue. I was dying to know how Claire ended up dying – and why she had no regrets. I read on, and ironically, the parts of the novel with Claire and Ferana (the hawk) ended up being some of my favorite scenes. They were absolutely magical.
    The best thing about the book was the characters. They were all very unique, especially Claire, she was great.  I could picture each character so vividly – from kooky Winny, to fragile but strong Ally, and brave but insecure Billy, and nerdy Henry, each was so unique. I also couldn’t get enough of Claire and Dylan. There was an immediate attraction and tension between them that made me want to read more. In fact, once I started, I couldn’t stop reading, I was dying to know the secrets of Cambial Academy, and to learn if Claire ended up with Henry (loved him!) or Dylan (loved him more!).  I also really enjoyed Claire’s transformation from an unsure of herself teenager to someone who learns to trust her instincts and believe in herself. 
    The writing was very descriptive, which I really like. I could easily visualize Cambial, and imagine the students working on all of their “specials”. And the Darwin and Tabby scenes were hysterical.
    I would highly recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, romance or adventure books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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