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The Ability (The Ability #1)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  788 Ratings  ·  134 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
Hardcover, 330 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published March 1st 2013)
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The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. VaughanThe House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
4th out of 371 books — 733 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingHoles by Louis SacharEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Best Books for Teen Boys
30th out of 1,098 books — 1,391 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lucy Beck
Jul 11, 2013 Lucy Beck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Anna W.
Apr 24, 2013 Anna W. rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 07, 2013 Bella rated it it was amazing
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)
May 06, 2013 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it really liked it
Shelves: yabc-reviews, arc
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
Dec 13, 2013 Mallory T rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 16, 2013 Anna Ellis rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 05, 2013 Dorian rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 13, 2013 Fitzwilliam rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 12, 2013 Scarlett rated it it was amazing
this book is soooooooo amazing!!!!!! I can't wait for the next one -is ernest is going to be evil now???!!!!
Darth J
Aug 20, 2014 Darth J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
May 22, 2013 Josey rated it really liked it
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-
Feb 27, 2015 Cameron rated it liked it
Recommended to Cameron by: Darth J
When you first read the synopsis for The Ability by M.M. Vaughan, the first thing you'll probably think of is a little book series called Harry Potter. After all, this is a middle grade book about a school for children who have special abilities (also read: "stinkin' awesome powers!"). While the premise does indeed resemble Harry Potter in some ways, I promise that it is very different.

I'd describe The Ability as being more like X-Men, or if Matilda went to a school for "gifted" children. I'm al
Jan 20, 2013 Tracy rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 09, 2013 Chloe rated it it was amazing
I love the idea of the school and how they read people's minds by walking through buildings and streets! Amazing book!
May 13, 2013 Ruth rated it it was amazing
Reminds me of "The Mysterious Benedict Society" series by Trenton Lee Stewart.
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 it was amazing
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
William Galaini
Jul 08, 2013 William Galaini rated it really liked it
Looking back I have always been under the impression that I was particularly bright at the age of 12. I was sharper, less clouded with uncertainty, able to build anything out of Legos, and I knew the name of every damned dinosaur that walked this Earth.

Then 13 hit, and it all went downhill from there.

M.M. Vaughan's deceptively playful young adult novel entitled 'The Ability' has a spectacular answer for this riddle: all 12 year old children are latent geniuses. They have a window of brilliance a
jessie o'regan
Apr 02, 2013 jessie o'regan rated it it was amazing
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
Brandy Painter
Aug 12, 2013 Brandy Painter rated it really liked it
Originally posted here at Random Musings of Bibliophile.

I am a lover of boarding school stories and stories with mystery and intrigue so was excited to discover The Ability by M.M. Vaughan. It has all the elements of a great spy story.

I like what Vaughan did with the idea of "the special kid needed for important work and gets trained for it" concept. It's been done so many times. What I like about it here is that all kids have the potential for the special abilities Chris and his friends are be
Feb 24, 2014 Gak222 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-ever
Ok. I'm sorry. All those people who say this book wasn't good. You have no taste in books what so ever
Jun 12, 2013 Claudia rated it really liked it
Shelves: c-and-d
My son and I were lucky enough to meet Ms. Vaughan at our local bookstore, Book People. There was a good mixture of suspense, drama, and comedy. We liked how the main character Chris was written. He has had a hard life but has a very good heart. We look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Dixie A.
Oct 19, 2014 Dixie A. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Starts slow, but becomes amazing. Chris only has his mom to rely on and she isn't very reliable, being lost in her grief for his father. Consequently, the 12 year old has to take care of the house, pay the bills and, oh, manage school as well. As you can guess, school isn't going so well.

He's just been expelled when he qualifies for a scholarship to a new school. This one, however, is quite different. It has to do with his mental abilities and it, and the other children, are to become extremely
Lynette ~ Escaping Reality – One Book at a Time ~
OH, wow. I loved this book so much! It was absolutely fantastic and irresistible! I've missed middle-grade fiction!
Hannah Cardle
Jul 15, 2013 Hannah Cardle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, own
AMAZING book! Review coming soon...
Jun 24, 2013 Polly rated it really liked it
Excellent book!
Ley (sounds like "Lee") *my head is a jungle*
This book was such a mess. I was so disappointed. I think it was a great idea, but it was poorly executed.

First of all, I feel like this is a copycat of Harry Potter. Both are about 11/12 year old boys in England who suffer from parent/guardian neglect. They both get invited to a special, secret school. There is a mean teacher who torments them and a principal/headmaster who is like a father figure. But Harry Potter is an infinite number of times more amazing than the jumbled mess known as The A
Feb 12, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, childrens, spy
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
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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The Ability: where to now? 1 10 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
More about M.M. Vaughan...

Other Books in the Series

The Ability (2 books)
  • Mindscape (The Ability, #2)

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