"The Paladin Prophecy" by Mark Frost really delivers on the hype (Chris Columbus, director of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" called it "a remarkably suspenseful ride.") It is that and more.
Frost creates a protagonist named Will West who is not only believable, but very likable. He has abilities he is learning about -- but he remains modest and down-to-earth. Well, at least as down-to-earth as a sixteen-year-old who has found out that someone or many someones are trying to kill him.
Will is out for a routine run when strangers appear and his father tells him (via a text) to RUN. He does. And he quickly realizes that not only are these strangers in a black car trying to kill him, but he has an almost supernatural ability to run really really fast. He also can hear what the guys in the car are saying -- how is that even possible?
At school, Will meets representatives from an exclusive school who, because of his incredible test scores, invite him to attend their private school in the Midwest. Will lives in Ojai, California, which is a wonderful place to live. Unfortunately, Will's parents never seem to want to settle down, and the family has moved from place to place every fifteen months.
While Will loves his parents, they are secretive and strange, and Will's father has made him a list of rules to live by. It's that list of rules that saves Will's neck many times over in this first book of the series.
Will ends up at the private school, and he learns that his parents were killed in a private plane crash on their way to see him. Since they would not have had the money to hire a private plane, he suspects that they might still be alive, but he's too busy in this first installment trying to stay alive to do much about it.
Will and his roommates in the dorm all have unusual powers. Will discovers that he can run super-fast, "push" ideas into people's minds, and create a grid that tells him where the things around him are, including people. Ajay can see as well as a hawk, is a computer genius, and has a photographic memory. Nick is an athlete whose gymnastic combinations and permutations become important when the group is fighting bad guys. Elise, one of the two girls in their group housing, can talk to Will using thought, and she has vocal abilities that are way beyond anything imaginable. Brooke, the other girl, seems to be the only one with no special talent. Will has a crush on Brooke. But Elise seems to like him, also. What's a guy to do?
There are good guys (almost heavenly) and bad guys (dare I say demons?) and those who want to take over the world. There is an ancient Native American running coach, school bullies, and mysterious rich guys. Will isn't sure whom he can trust outside his roommates and Dave, a "dead" Vietnam vet who saves Will's life more than once.
The story races from scene to scene, and the book is difficult to put down. This reviewer was lucky and received the first two books together, thus able to seamlessly read the first two books in a row. However, now comes the difficult part -- waiting for the third book.
Fabulous for readers of any age, those who like action and/or mystery and/or fantasy will love this series. Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by Random House for review purposes.
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