Donovan's prank has finally gone too far. He sits in the principal's office, worried that his fate might actually be expulsion, and a clerical error sends him to a school for advanced learners instead. Donovan's unimpressive academic performance at his new school is attributed to an environment that doesn't stimulate him appropriately, so his teachers continue to work to motivate him. His classmates continue to be puzzled by him. When he joins a robotics competition team, Donovan realizes he may have something genuine to contribute.
There are a lot of interesting ideas in this book, but they are not all as fully developed as I wish they were. There are some good moments of tension and suspense, especially at the beginning with the Hunger Games style selection, and later between the twin brothers. The story feels like Harry Potter, with a character exploring a training school in a world he has never known.
The invented world suffers a bit from some logical inconsistencies - artist characters can use paint in battle, and musicians can employ music to defeat their enemies. It's a nice idea to use imagination to fight, but a little haphazard, as a reader could almost always think of a plausible technique a fighter could have used. There's a lot happening - betrayal, mentors, gigantic talking animals with battle expertise, an impending war, internal competition - plenty to make readers turn pages, but maybe not as much to hold on to when the book ends.
"His mind was so occupied with not being in Magical Warrior Training, and the ache of missing his brother was more than he cared to admit - which no one else seemed to understand."
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