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The Ability (The Ability #1)

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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  491 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Delve into the extraordinary abilities of the twelve-year-old mind in this thrilling start to a middle-grade series that expands the possibilities of power.

No one has any confidence in twelve-year-old Christopher Lane. His teachers discount him as a liar and a thief, and his mom doesn’t have the energy to deal with him. But a mysterious visit from the Ministry of Education
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Hardcover, 330 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published March 1st 2013)
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Books Like Alex Rider
79th out of 540 books — 320 voters
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Middle Grade Novels of 2013
5th out of 329 books — 606 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,723)
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Lucy Beck
AWESOME BOOK!!!! The story is about a boy called Chris who finds out he can enter people's minds. The minds in The Ability are like cities and each city is different for every person. The characters are really believable and interesting. For example, at the beginning, you think that Rex is a bully but as you read on you learn that Rex is actually really funny and just gets things wrong. Chris has a really hard life but he is such a nice person even though he's gone through everything that he has ...more
Ryan Kelly
Sep 13, 2013 Ryan Kelly rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one really
Not sure where I put the ability. It's not really a spy book so it's not as good as Spy School, Jason Steed or Alex Rider. Its close to Harry Potter but not as well written, some parts are copied from the Harry Potter books, but he has an Ability.

I did not like how he was with his mom, at 12 he would still love his mom, and she would love him, it was not nice. The author should have made him an orphan for all the good the mother was.

This is the lowest rating I have ever given a book, sorry I ju
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Anna W.
Best book ever according to my son! He got his copy a day before release and, not only did he finish it but he's already started to read it again - that's how much he loved it.

I can see how this will be a 5 star or 1 star book - 1 star from adults who are uncomfortable with the dark content (and boy is it dark at times!) and 5 stars from anybody who gets how much kids will like it for exactly that reason! It's funny too.

On a side note, from a parent point of view, it brought up some great issues
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Bella
The excitement at my school about this author is unprecedented! A group of students went to see her speak when she came to visit from England on her book tour and it has had a snowball effect. I finally got round to reading it and can see exactly why the book has had such a reaction - it is fast-paced, full of details about the mind that are original and clever and full of humor. There are criticisms - I do think that some of the side characters need fleshing out (but it is the first in a series ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
I am a total sucker for middle grade novels about special schools and kids with powers. Perhaps it's because I grew up reading Harry Potter, and am still on the hunt for that elusive book that will mean as much to me, though I know that will likely not happen, because I'm an adult now and less able to appreciate the magic. Still, for all that I'm not likely to find something as amazing as Harry Potter is, my middle grade choices have yet to fail me. The Ability is a darker-than-usual middle grad ...more
Mallory T
Wow! Great book!!! If you love anything about England (like me) - this book is a must-have. Really fun. Bit like Harry Potter but older. I really recommend it. i can't wait for book 2!!!
Anna Ellis
I haven't read this (yet) but my 12 year old just finished it today and is in love with it! What I like, as a parent, is that this book has been the catalyst for some of the deepest conversations about ethics/morality, family and responsibility that I have ever had with her. She's loved reading it and I've loved her reading it. Both of us are looking forward to number two!
Dorian
I work in a bookstore and a kid recommended this to me. Usually it's the other way round! Kid was right--it's a GREAT read! It's great fun and works on different levels - for kids, there's the action-packed story, a deliciously evil family and tons of 'i wish i could do that'! For teenagers and adults, there's a whole other level to read this book on - the desperate and complex situation of the protagonist and the way he deals with that and - what blew me away - the concept of the unique city of ...more
Fitzwilliam
Don't - and I'm saying this as an English teacher - get all literary on this. This is fast and full of detail - the kind of book kids can read again and again. It might not win any literary awards but that's fine by me, not all books worth reading have to. The kind of kids I teach - boys mostly - NEED more books like this!
More serious and thought-provoking than Mysterious Benedict Society (which I love too btw), less of that Harry Potter magic that sometimes puts boys off. I KNOW this is a book
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Angela Rabbit
Reason for dropping: The idea of The Ability seemed SO promising! I was very exciting to start reading it and at first I thought it was going to be great! But as I kept reading, I just couldn't get into it. I didn't find really any of the characters to be all that likable. (I had only met a handful of characters when I dropped it though). And sometimes I was confused because the book would switch point of views and focuses sometimes? It was also really hard for me to imagine anything. I couldn't ...more
Melissa
Because I work in a bookstore and because I really enjoy reading Children's and YA literature, I read a lot of it. I am also a fan of scifi and dystopic fantasies. While I wanted to enjoyed the premise of this book and thought it was very imaginative, I thought the level of violence, both mental and physical was a bit too much for this age group. The relationship between the boy and his mother was so dysfunctional, so harsh and so abusive, it really took away from the storyline for me. And witho ...more
Lessa
I spent most of this book thinking about its similarities to Harry Potter. Kids who under-appreciated and misunderstood discover upon their birthday (12 instead of 13, but whatever) that they have a special power which can be harnessed and trained at a special boarding school - all expenses paid.

That is mostly where the similarities end aside from the boarding school life - teachers (like Snape who seem to have it out for our hero), bullies (not as bad as Draco, but he has his moments), and gir
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Shannon
I requested The Ability from the library for my 11 and 13 year old daughters to read. Being between books, I read the flap of this book and was intrigued enough to give it a try. While the concept (that during the 12th year of life each child is gifted with special abilities) was interesting, the book plot felt precarious in places and the characters a little thrown together. That being said, this might be a good book to share with the ten to twelve year old as a quick summer read.
J.
I really enjoyed everything about this book. First off, the style reminded me of the kind of books I read in elementary school that were written in that magical period of the 1950s-1970s. Second, I know a lot of people will want to compare this book to Harry Potter, but for me it felt more like Matilda meets X-Men: First Class, by way of The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series.

So here's the premise:
6 twelve year olds are chosen to attend a special school where they can learn to strengthe
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Scarlett
this book is soooooooo amazing!!!!!! I can't wait for the next one -is ernest is going to be evil now???!!!!
Ronny Manis
I like ya books and liked this, it is NOT a copy of Harry Potter, it is not like Jason Steed or Alex Rider but if you like those books you will love the Ability, I have ordered book 2 and hope to see a book 3.
Tony Keefer
Very enjoyable middle grade read. Protagonist Christopher Lane learns that he has very unique abilities such as mind reading and telekenesis. He along with some of his new classmates at a special school are being trained how to control their powers and eventually they all team together to foil the dastardly plans of a former student at their school.

Overall the characters and the plot were very strong. I anticipate a sequel or two based on the ending. Too bad I will have to wait a while.
Angela
A school for kids with certain psychic abilities. Someone is turning a rogue element against those who participated in the program years ago so the school is reformed to combat the menace. A small number of kids, each with different strengths are learning and being tested toward a showdown. A look at what motivates those who are different as well as a study of what kind of forces can cause a formerly benign person to turn to rage, hatred, and even be consumed by a thirst for revenge. Although tr ...more
Experiment BL626
The book was a mildly enjoyable read despite the sadness that rained throughout the first quarter of the book.

+ the characters

As a denizen of La La Land, I didn’t like the sad beginning. Chris was forced to shoulder adult responsibilities because his father was dead and his mother was in perpetual depression because of it. My heart bled as I watched him steal money for food. Even the primary villains, Dulcia and her twin sons, were sympathetic, with Dulcia’s childhood ruined, betrayed by her inc
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Blair Hakins
Not good, a take on Harry Potter but not as good.
Josey
M.M. Vaughan's "The Ability" is the answer to the frequently asked question: "what should I read after Harry Potter?"

A book with great promise and a beautifully illustrated cover, The Ability follows the trials and tribulations of Christopher Lane, a child who, like Harry, comes from a dysfunctional home. Chris is instantly likeable and pitiable, from his bravery in dealing with his father's death and his mother's mental illness, to his willingness to step up and be more responsible than any 12-
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Tracy
I just finished reading this before writing a review, and while the prologue put me off a little, I found myself referring to it as I continued into the story. I don't want to say too much about it, because I will be writing a review, but the characters are good, the development of the story is good, and the end leaves the door open for another novel. I am not a reader of fantasy, but I do love mysteries, and I enjoyed this title quite a bit.
Chloe
I love the idea of the school and how they read people's minds by walking through buildings and streets! Amazing book!
Ruth
Reminds me of "The Mysterious Benedict Society" series by Trenton Lee Stewart.
shadesofmaybe
very, very Harry Potter-like but not as good as it
Liz
Chris feels like a failure. No one in his life believes in him, not his teachers, not his mom, and certainly not his classmates. So when a kind representative from a mysterious school called Myers Holt Academy tells Chris he is talented and offers him a place at this prestigious school, he can hardly believe it. Little does Chris know, he possesses something powerful called The Ability which allows him and as well as his peers to manipulate objects and people using only their minds. Chris must l ...more
Alex O'brien
Feb 23, 2013 Alex O'brien rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone from age 10+
I was lent a pre-publication copy by a reviewer friend of mine who loved it, in exchange for writing a review on here. I don't normally read children's books and, no, I haven’t even read any of the Harry Potter books, so I was surprised to find I was hooked from the first paragraph.

MM Vaughn has created characters that are diverse, colorful and quirky.

What I loved the most was that, despite the core fantasy theme in the book, MM Vaughn injects a lots of realism. Bravely, she doesn’t give the twe
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jessie o'regan
I received a preview copy of The Ability at work and, while I'm not going to write a full review now, I did want to say how much I loved it. It's fast-paced, has a brilliant concept behind it and the character of Chris is very well rounded-out. I agree with the other reviewer on here that I don't know if it's a bit dark for the younger end of the recommended age group but what I will say is that I think, unusually for a middle-grade novel, it definitely has crossover appeal; I can see teenagers ...more
Jennifer
2.5 stars

The short version...
There's nothing really new in The Ability for anyone who has read a children's magic and/or spy boarding school book before, but, in my opinion, The Ability does rather well, even if it does have a lot of the same tropes. (As an aside, yes, indeed, there are plenty of boarding school books that *aren't* Harry Potter, many of which were even written BHP - Before Harry Potter, go figure!). In a lot of ways, including the characters, The Ability was very much a first, i
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The Ability: where to now? 1 8 Jul 12, 2013 07:28PM  
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The daughter of South American parents, Monica Meira Vaughan grew up in Spain before moving to London at the age of five where she learnt English by watching Sesame Street and reading every Roald Dahl book she could get her hands on.

On leaving school, and after a brief stint in public relations, Monica decided to train as a primary school teacher. She has spent the last eight years working in spe
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More about M.M. Vaughan...
Mindscape (The Ability, #2) Six

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