Kyle Tanner has nightmares. The kind that baffles psychiatrists and makes it impossible for him to focus on his studies. But when he gets a scholarship to attend Banville Academy, an elite school for kids with problems, he learns the truth about his nightmares: they’re real. And what’s more, everyone at this new school has special abilities like his. Led by Dr Jameson and his team, Kyle and his friends are being honed to form a special task force to counter the approaching apocalypse.
Lane Alexander’s THE NIGHT PEOPLE has an intriguing premise: all people are born with latent special abilities, but only some of them have mutated enough to be able to access their talents. Banville Academy is one of many Great Schools worldwide where kids who have learned to use their talents can come to train their abilities, which falls into one of four kinds: telekinesis, telepathy, empathy or (rarely) night walking. Kyle, the protagonist, is an uncommonly gifted night walker, someone with the ability to travel to the antiverse, a parallel world, while sleeping. His mentor, Dr Jameson, begins to train Kyle and a group of his most talented friends to oppose a cult called the Dragnars who want to bring about the Unity, an event that will give cult-members godlike powers and end the world as we know it.
For readers who enjoy the X-Men and love the boarding school atmosphere of the Harry Potter novels, then this book is for you. It’s aimed at young adults and is much darker and grittier than Harry Potter. The antiverse and the creatures within it are richly imagined and skin-crawlingly creepy, leaving the novel with a distinct horror fantasy feel to it. Kyle’s journey from awkward outsider to valued team member, and the resultant friendships that stem from that, is interesting and satisfying, while glimpses into the backgrounds of his friends enhance the generally single person point of view with new perspectives.
The novel’s greatest flaw lies in its tendency to info dump. With such an interesting world and the rules that govern the talents to describe, the author has unfortunately fallen into the trap of over-exposition, i.e. telling instead of showing. Roughly two thirds of the book is spent following Kyle from classroom to classroom where teachers and students tell him how their powers work. While the antagonists are introduced fairly early on, it’s only towards the end of the story that they become a real threat and it is clear why they should be stopped. The story would have benefitted greatly from more action earlier on where the reader is shown how the special abilities work in practice, rather than being forced to sit through endless class lectures.
Although the book did not end on a cliff-hanger as most series starters do, I was nevertheless left with the feeling of wanting more, which is always a good sign. Now that the scene has been set, the story can only get better.
~ Suneé Jones for IndieReader