Book Tour & GIVEAWAY: ‘The Exceptionals’ by Erin Cashman

The Exceptionals

by Erin Cashman

Holiday House

Pub. Date:   February 1, 2012

Book received from: Publisher via TLC Book Tours


Claire Walker is not thrilled at all to be told she is going to Cambial Academy- the prestigious private school her family founded years ago- after getting into trouble with friends of hers from public school.  She does not fit in and does not belong in a school like this.  Soon, however, students are going missing from Cambial, and fifteen-year-old Claire is determined to find out why- and who is behind it all.  Only, things are not as easy as they should be, because Cambial Academy has a big secret from the outside world:  everyone within its walls is gifted with a power of which many only dream.  There are clairvoyants, telekinetics, math geniuses, and others who attend the school in order to harness and grow their abilities.  For Claire though, talking to animals just does not measure up on the cool abilities scale- so she keeps it a secret from those around her, including her mother who disapproved of her daughter’s ability early on.

When more people go missing, including her parents it quickly becomes clear that the remains students must do something soon- and trust no one along the way.  Claire must decide if a mysterious boy she keeps meeting in the woods is simply a distraction, or if he is the key to saving those around her.  Finding out why these students have been chosen, and who has plans bigger than any of them becomes a dangerous mystery to uncover.  It soon becomes very clear that not everyone is going to survive the fight.

Claire Walker is a strong heroine in what has quickly become a genre full of other strong heroines.  However, there is something about Claire that stands apart in YA fantasy.  She possesses a fair amount of  rebelliousness, but it is well-balanced with a calmness and gentleness that could be mistake for being naïve.  However, Claire is no more naïve than any other fifteen-year-old girl with a crush who is discovering how she fits into the world around her.  That is perhaps what is most likable about this leading lady- she reacts and responds appropriately for her age, as do all the kids in the story.  They are not running around trying to be adults- and that they are allowed to be kids is very refreshing.

As far as Claire’s ability of being able to communicate with animals, I had mixed feelings.  It was great to see an ability in a story like this that was very nature-centered and not science-centered.  She had perhaps the most difficult ability to control and master because she had to gain the trust of the animals, be able to take in everything around her at the same time, and humble herself to being just another living creature.  Claire’s ability does not afford her arrogance, as do many of the other students’ abilities.  That being said, there were times when the animals would speak with her that came off as a little contrived or cheesy.  The language in those scenes became a bit stilted and forced, when it should have been a very fluid thing as Claire’s ability progressed.

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.   It is also nice to see a story that is not based on supernatural abilities, but those that are trained and honed by using different parts of the brain and simply expanding on what is already present within each kid.  While The Exceptionals is not exceptional, it is a very nice edition for the younger YA collection- and, I , for one, am interested in seeing what story and characters Ms. Cashman delivers next.  Plus, I am, admittedly, a sucker for a ginger-haired leading lady.


Holiday House Publishers have generously offered a copy of The Exceptionals for one lucky reader.  To be entered, simply comment below & tell me what you would want to know if you could communicate with animals, with your      e-mail address in the comment.  
Must be at least 13-years-old and live in the US.  I will pick a winner by random March 21st, 2012


Check out the entire blog tour calendar.

This book can be purchased at, as well as your local independent bookseller.

For more about Erin Cashman, go to her website here.


15 thoughts on “Book Tour & GIVEAWAY: ‘The Exceptionals’ by Erin Cashman

  1. Thank you so much, Jamie, for taking the time to read and review The Exceptionals. I’m so glad you thought Claire was a strong, believable character.

    And Peggy, it is funny how we can really understand our pets, and what they want, isn’t it? I’d love to know what my dog, Riley, dreams about. He’s always making noises and moving around in his sleep!

  2. wow there are a lot of things I would love to ask. Especially my cats. I live on a farm and we have 6 barn cats and sometimes they disappear for several days and when they come back I would love to know where they have been. lol Thanks for the giveaway! Gale

    • Gale, Muffin, my cat growing up used to do that too. He’d often come home looking like he’d been in a brawl! Maybe it was better that I didn’t know what he was doing! Actually, Muffin was the inspiration for the cat in The Exceptionals, Tabby.

      And Doctor Doolittle with Rex Harrison is one of my favorite movies Ron! I loved the giant butterfly.

  3. I would want to know what they think about and how they communicate with the other animals.
    Lmackesy @

    • Lauren, I would also love to know how animals comunicate with each other – especially different species.

      It would be great to know that Joy. The more I read about elephants and whales, living in family groups, the more it seems to me that they do think and feel like we do.

  4. I love the sound of the book!

    If I could communicate with animals I’d ask them what they would like to change about humans if they could, and if they knew we were making mistakes before we make them.

    Thanks so much!

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

  5. Pingback: Review: The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman | Life is Short. Read Fast.

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