My experience with books that delve into the realm of the paranormal has rarely been a positive one. I always seem to get my hands on the books that have super lame, female main characters. But, The Candidates showed me strong female lead characters can exist in these types of books.
The Candidates by Inara Scott (Delcroix Academy #1)
Released: August 2010
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Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that’s not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia’s mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just…happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually, someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden.
But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia’s days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats’ kids and child geniuses–not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she’s special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.
Dancia Lewis was awesooooome! In the beginning, she struggled with low confidence, but throughout the book, she begins to grow into a strong-minded and independent young woman. Her confidence is on occasion punctuated with moments of self-doubt, but she always manages to pull through. I think this is the kind of growth I’ve been missing in so many of the books I’ve read in the past few years with female main characters. And, the fact that her new confidence waivers on occasion make Dancia seem real to me; what young adult hasn’t grown up experiencing this?
My only frustration with Dancia is she seems too mature for her age. If she hadn’t said she was 14-year-old and just entering high school, I would have assumed she was about to graduate high school. On one hand, this was a breath of fresh air. On the other hand, it wasn’t entirely believable. I was 14 once and I know 14-year-olds– we were never that mature and self-aware.
The romance in this book doesn’t make me cringe. For once! There are two possible love interests for Dancia. There is Jack, a freshman like Dancia, who comes across as a bad boy and unapproachable to those who don’t know him. Then there is Cam, the eleventh-grade heart-throb– the “All-American” type if you will. Like most teenagers, she is at times preoccupied with the thoughts of these two boys, but it’s not constant; Dancia isn’t another Bella Swan. The romantic relationship she develops isn’t even rushed. I just find it frustrating that characters always go for the love interest opposite of who I would choose. Seriously Dancia, why couldn’t you choose……just kidding!
The pacing in the novel was a little slow, but this didn’t make me read it with any less vim. Much of the action takes place in the last quarter of the book, and once I got there, I couldn’t read or turn the pages fast enough. Otherwise, there was a lot of background information offered in this book; I have to assume this means the next book is going to be action-packed and full of win! Regardless of the pacing of the Candidates, this was a book I simply could not put down.
I thought the only noteworthy downfall for this book was the lack of descriptions of the setting. I understand Delcroix Academy is a big, brick, square doughnut-shaped building sitting on the top of a hill, but I’m perplexed about what the inside of the building looks like. In my head, I imagined the inside of the Academy to look the same as my old high schools, which I’m sure is hardly the case. I would hope the inside of Delcroix is significantly more pristine and grand. But, since there weren’t too many descriptions, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Overall, the book was awesome! I loved the characters, and I’m intrigued by the storyline. I can’t wait to find out what happens next, so I’m especially eager for the second book to hit shelves!