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The Exceptionals

cover: copyright © 2012 
by Richard Tushman


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In a famous family of exceptionally talented people, fifteen-year-old Claire Walker is ordinary . . . or so she leads everyone to believe. Yet the minute she steps out of line, her parents transfer her to Cambial Academy: the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities, or “specials”. Although Claire can’t see ghosts or move objects with her mind like the other students, she does have a special she considers too lame to admit: she can hear the thoughts of animals.

Just as she is settling in, one by one the most talented students – the Exceptionals – go missing. In an attempt to find out what happened to them, Claire uncovers a dark prophecy involving a plot to destroy Cambial and a mysterious girl who can communicate with a hawk. Could she be that girl? Does the gorgeous but secretive boy she meets in the woods know more than he is letting on? After years of ignoring her special gift, Claire decides the time has come to embrace her ability . . . before it’s too late.

I am thrilled and honored that The Exceptionals was named a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year!




"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 it's 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" 

School Library Journal 


"I liked Claire. She's brave and she also sounds like a teenage girl--concerned about boys and her friends. She has a conflicted relationship with her mom, and that rang very true as well. I also liked the characters around her. They all have distinct voices and personalities and contributed well to the overall conflict. . . The story kept my interest and is a solid debut. I'm looking forward to the sequel."


YA Books Central - Featured Book


"From the first few paragraphs, I was hooked and read this page-turner in two sittings. Claire, the spunky and completely believable protagonist, engages the reader as she struggles to stay afloat in her new reality and make the most out of an unfortunate turn of events... Even though Cambial Academy and its extraordinary students are beyond normal, Cashman has created a completely believable supernatural world. I highly recommend this book because a wide range of ages (11 and up) and audiences could enjoy this read and relate to the story and characters. Its a fantastical coming of age story..."



"This supernatural mystery will draw readers in as they search for answers and meaning, as well as the discovery of a secret kept quiet for years."



"The moment I started reading this novel, I was absolutely enthralled.  As soon as I read the first page, I knew this was a book that was going to occupy my thoughts until I finished it."



"The Exceptionals is a really, really cool book - think X-Men meets the Graveyard Book meets Percy Jackson and the Olympians...refreshing teen book...has something for everyone"



"Before I start this review all I can say is drop everything you are doing and read this book.  If you love to read a story about humans being able to talk to animals, ghost or even move objects with their minds then this is a story for you.  I love this book so much.  It was like an adventure that the author took you on from start to end.  It was definitely a page turner that kept getting better and better through the whole story.  You didn't even want to put the book down."



"The Exceptionals is a great read, it's a fun story, it's one of those that you start off not quite sure what to expect and within a few pages are completely immersed into the setting, the feel, the atmosphere and the characters...It's almost like you completely block out everything around you and become one with the book...As a Yound Adult Fiction, I think this one rates right up there with some of the most popular, it features a young heroine, a strong willed girl but yet vulnerable...a breath of fresh air."



"I flew through this book within a handful of hours because this book was that good...It's obviously set up for at least a sequel, but I would love it if this became a three book series.  I kind of loved Claire....  All of the characters were developed really well and not to the extent where pages are wasted on useless information... This is Erin Cashman's first novel, which is surprising to me because it is really well done."



"The Exceptionals is an enjoyable read that has a great mystery that will keep you turning the pages to find out what is really going on.  Many parts of the story reminded me of a mix between Harry Potter and Heroes, but it still has something that is just enough different that delivers on many levels."   



"The world surrounding Cambial Academy had me captivated. The magical qualities of the boarding school kept me interested, curious to learn more about these special talents...Claire was a great main character – she had her own thoughts and opinions, but didn’t alienate the reader. Instead, her connection with the animals around her caused me to root for her." 



"What I found between these pages took over my mind (and weekend) like a whirlwind. I could not put this one down. The Exceptionals is an imaginative tale that focuses on Claire Walker and her talented family... I really liked the entire concept of specials. Learning about each of the specials and what they could do was fascinating."



"This was a great story. It’s a light and easy read and one of those where the pages seem to fly by and before you know it the end of the book has come. Claire was a likeable character who showed a lot of spunk and bravery and I loved the way she was able to communicate with animals."



"This is a book targeted to young adults but I must say that I found it to be very enjoyable... I met a very intriguing cast of characters that I would very much like to meet up with again for another adventure.... The characters are well developed and the atmosphere was appropriately scary for the target audience.  I will look forward to further adventures from The Exceptionals."



"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!"



"If you like Young Adult Fiction, then this is a great book to pick up. . . If you are looking for a quick, fun, easy read, then the Exceptionals is a good choice."



"This book has a little bit of everything, the evil scientist with crazy abilities, family drama that evokes memories of dealing with my own siblings, and a fierce, stubborn heroine who fights to save her school and its inhabitants... Recommended for anyone who enjoys a strong female character, a bit of psychic power, and a family that loves each other, flaws and all. There are no sexual scenes only a couple of chaste kisses, and no foul language.  If you enjoyed The Alchemyst or Ella Enchanted then The Exceptionals may be a great next read for you!"



"... a wonderful and highly captivating blend of fantasy, elements of surprise, and romance with this enjoyable novel . . . a promising new young adult author, with a wonderful sense of writing style, imagination, and the integrity to pull it out with no stops."



"This story is fast-paced and full of surprises. Students will be fascinated with the special talents of the students and the ways that Claire develops her own. With the variety of characters, this title will find wide appeal. It is well written and the suspense keeps building to the end."



"The Exceptionals was a very interesting read! . . .Full of magic, fantasy, and supernatural elements. . .Erin Cashman writes with such precision and great storytelling that it’s hard not to read this book fairly quickly. . . There is great potential shown in this debut. I can’t wait to see what else the author has up her sleeves. I really enjoyed The Exceptionals and would recommend it to those who are intrigued by the synopsis and the theme of exceptional students attending a magical academy."


"I really liked Claire, and her new friends at Cambial. . . The mystery surrounding the missing students kept my interest til the very end.  I liked how the author made sure that the ending was both a dramatic finish to the story, but also left it open just enough to make the reader want more.  I really enjoyed reading this book, and hope the author writes a sequel".


"Featuring cool superpowers and extraordinary abilities, secrets, prophecies and dangerous quests, The Exceptionals is a greatly enjoyable and thoroughly captivating novel. It's well-written and emotionally engaging.  Fast moving.  Fresh.  Most of all, though, it's just insanely entertaining and fun to read.   Erin Cashman is an exciting new voice and she delivers a fantastic YA paranormal debut, and one that is sure to satisfy your craving for action and adventure.".


"I loved reading as Claire learned more and more about her gift.  Being able to see it develop from only hearing base thoughts...to being able to have a conversation with an animal in her mind was amazing.   The ending was left very open so I am hoping there will be a sequel.  I was sad to see the ending and I want to delve more into the world of this exceptionally talented people.  Grade A"

"Claire Walker was a very interesting character. . . .She is a character that learns to be confident. . . . I loved the way she learns about her “powers” and I love the way that she utilizes that power. I love that she was scared but still went through with her plan even though she knew what would happen if she did. . ."


"When I first read The Exceptionals, I was fascinated.  I imagined something similar to books I've read and loved like the Mythos Academy series or Hex Hall.  While I love both of those series, Cashman's The Exceptionals went a bit deeper... It's ideal for reads whol love boarding schools with a paranormal element that also have a coming-of-age type storyline present."


"Right off the bat, when I read the premise, I was intrigued. It sounded a lot like X-Men, with Xavier’s School for the Gifted and while there are many YA books out there that have to do with kids honing their special skills, this had a very different feel to it. The characters all had distinctive qualities and enough mystery to them that you were never quite sure what their motives were. Cashman does a fantastic job at building the tension and pacing out the story, keeping everyone on high alert with who would disappear next – and why, culminating in an action-packed finale . . .It’s the overall cast of characters, situations and circumstances that really make this a unique and entertaining read.."


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