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The Zanna Function

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When fourteen-year-old Zanna Mayfield gets an acceptance letter from St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, she jumps at the chance to put her considerable intellect to good use. But nothing can prepare her for the first day, when she discovers that she is a Scientist —one able to see and bend the basic functions of the universe like velocity, gravity, and chemical reactions to her own purposes.

As Zanna struggles to make friends and learn how to use her abilities at her new school, her troubles multiply when a mysterious stranger begins stalking her, dead set on keeping Zanna out of St. Pommeroy’s. If Zanna has any hope of finishing her first year, she’ll need to master every function she can get her mind around—including the one that defines Zanna herself.

304 pages, Paperback

First published March 20, 2018

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About the author

Daniel Wheatley

1 book20 followers
Daniel Wheatley worked as a financial news proofreader and copy editor before making the transition to editor at Mascot Books, a hybrid self-publisher in Herndon, Virginia. When not helping other writers achieve their dream of publication, he enjoys teaching swing dancing and hunting for cheesy movies to add to his collection.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
879 reviews447 followers
March 23, 2018
A school for gifted children that is basically the Hogwarts of scientists. The magic of science and bending the laws of the universe. A really smart girl defending against an evil that wants to kidnap her. And she's all alone against it, because since when do the authorities ever help a magical kid defend against a powerful dark being..?

In the words of Scifi & Scary, this is like Harry Potter – but with a girl and science instead of magic. What else could you possibly want??

5 Reasons To Read The Zanna Function

If you want to read the full review, do so here on my book blog. I give good reasons. And please don’t hesitate to comment.

Similar books:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1) by Moira Young The Girl With All the Gifts (The Girl With All the Gifts #1) by M.R. Carey Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker

I thank Jolly Fish Press for giving me a copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion.

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Profile Image for Sad Sunday (Books? Me?!? NEVER!!!) .
358 reviews178 followers
May 23, 2021
It's for kids, but it's soooo gooood!


Yes, I could see some Hogwarts similarities, but Mr. Wheatley (insert Portal joke here) made science fun, cool and understandable for kids. Who thought that math could be awesome? Me neither. There is nothing bad about being a geek! Kids act like kids, there are plenty of adventures happening, and I wanted #2. A very interesting take on making sci-fi YA book where everything "works" (no balls, still remember you Mistborn: The Final Empire..., no fake insta-loves, no extra drama, no stupid main characters - hooray!). Everything is down to earth, but due to really good writing that speaks to kids, the book is great.
Profile Image for The Librarian Witch.
73 reviews64 followers
April 25, 2018
I really enjoyed this one.
More than I was expecting to as well.
Which is good, because I wasn’t expecting to like it at all if I’m being honest.

I love magic and fantasy with a passion.
The same amount of passion with which I hate math and science.
So a book using math and science as the basis of its magic system really didn’t seem like something that I would be able to get on board with.

But how wrong I was!

This was a fantastic, exciting, enchanting read, and the math and science didn’t put me off at all!
Yes there were a few paragraphs that I had to skim read a little unless I wanted my brain to melt, but these were very few and far between.
For the most part all the science added so much to the story and gave it a really interesting and different spin than most other fantasy novels.
It was new and exciting and I loved it!

The characters were all wonderful, and the theme of friendship and family that ran throughout the story was really heartwarming.
The main plot of the story definitely kept me guessing, with twists and turns aplenty, right until the very end!

I’m so excited to see what else is in store in this new series and can’t wait to carry on with the story and meet up with Zanna and her friends again.

Definitely give this one a read. You won’t regret it!
Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
715 reviews406 followers
March 30, 2018
3.75 stars..

As early as first chapter, it was obvious that 14-year old,  Zanna Mayfield is gifted though it's a little later that we learn where exactly she excels. SCIENCE. The acceptance letter she received from the mysterious exclusive St. Pommeroy's School for Gifted Children is a proof to that. The story goes on with Zanna discovering that she's a SCIENTIST, one who can see and bend the basic functions of the universe to her own purposes. And that someone is set to keep her out of the academy. And in order for her to finish her first year in St. Pommeroy's and to stay alive, she must master her 'power'.
NOTE: All I've mentioned so far is stated on GR's Synopsis so they're not 
considered Spoilers. However, there might be some spoilers if you keep

The basic idea of the story sounds familiar, right? Big YES. But I enjoyed this book more than I expected and for a book that screamed Science so loud, that's saying something because I'm not really into Science. Why do you think I didn't finish my engineering course before? LOls. Anyway, despite the clicheness of the main plot, the magic used is kinda refreshing. It really is pure Science and that I found it fascinating to read all those Scientific terms. And surprisingly, I found those said terms easy to understand and really interesting.

I almost give up reading when I read of Zanna's first day on school which was basically the beginning of the story. It just seemed so force to me because all the cliches in a teenage highschool scenes are there. Bullying and all that. But then as quick as it started, it ended and suddenly it became clear why it was like that. It was an illusion. this is Big spoiler but I chose to state this so you don't give up on reading as well. Those eye-roll inducing scenes are really enough for a reader to lose interest. I'm telling you, don't. Thee story is filled with mystery that will keep you guessing till the end.

The characters are surprisingly likeable. They have such amazing personalities, especially Zanna. I think she has the potential to be this badass teenager who fights against evil using her badass power. I just hope that if there's a second book, I see more development  in the characters. And their relationships in need of development as well.

Now to the reason why it didn't get higher than 3.5 stars. I couldn't help thinking of other books and movies while reading. The acceptance letter, the school for gifted children and there was even a trunk or a tool box, flying bus and a school standing on a floating island. Most factors remind me of Harry Potter so much and I read the whole series every year so it's hard to focus on Zanna while HP is on my mind. :)

Overall, I enjoyed this book as I mentioned already and I highly recommend this to everyone. This is worth of your time and money. :) :)

I got a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank You. :)


Profile Image for Laura.
35 reviews5 followers
March 27, 2018
I LOVED THIS BOOK. LOVED IT. The Zanna Function transported me in that delightful way that all the best fantasy books do: by creating a rich and interesting magical world and giving you real characters with some relatable challenges (facing bullies, making friends and being vulnerable with them, journeys of self-discovery, imagining people complexly). I loved how accessible the scientific terminology was, without being dumbed-down at all. I think Science works great as a system of magic and love the fact that it's rooted in our real world, so you have the feeling that we might actually be surrounded by Scientists doing their work, even now.

Also, without giving too much away, the antagonist in this book is simply one of the most fascinating characters I've ever encountered in a middle-grade/YA book. I adored the puzzles, the characters, the jokes, the story. Can't wait to read much more from this talented debut author.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
2,105 reviews81 followers
October 13, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. Zanna is a younger girl (14) accepted to a school for gifted students. They are gifted alright. This book is quite different, no one has super hero powers, they can bend and manipulate science ( you'll have to read it to figure that out). She gets kidnapped, bullied, typical kids stuff. Underneath this amazingly descriptive story is a teenagers journey to discover things about herself, just told in an entertaining fictitious way. The characters are likable. The plot of the story is interesting (I didn't want to put it down). The places are described well. The story flows well. Excellent book for any age!
Profile Image for Yzabel Ginsberg.
Author 3 books105 followers
March 30, 2018
[I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.]

This middle grade/YA novel deals with Zanna, a girl who loves puzzles, science, and whose curiosity is never satisfied. When she learns she’s been accepted to St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, of course she jumps for joy, but from the first chapter on, things aren’t like what she expected at all: the school is a nightmare, her schoolmates are horrible, her teachers seem incompetent… or is that only a facet of reality, and truth is in fact much more complex? Don’t trust what you see at first! At St. Pommeroy’s, Zanna discovers that mathematics, physics and chemistry are doors towards understanding the very functions defining the universe, and with this understanding, people like her can learn to manipulate the fabric of the universe itself.

Magic through Science is a concept I love, and I had much fun reading about here (but then, I find simplifying surds relaxing, so…). The school itself follows patterns that aren’t new in many MG novels: Zanna meets the people who’ll become her schoolmates, there are friendships and enmities, but overall I found the school’s atmosphere was a positive one, encouraging cooperation and understanding each other, with the story not veering into the usual Mean Queen Bee and Gang vs. Nice Girl. Although, to be fair, I didn’t always find Zanna herself very nice, especially with the way she immediately started to judge one of the other pupils, when in fact she was best placed to understand his actions, and why he behaved like that. Good thing that this kind of attitude usually paves the way for character growth (both characters), all the more with one of the teachers latching on this and poking at said pupils to force them to look at their true selves instead of pretending to already know who they are and never looking further.

Other characters were enjoyable, too, although I wish they had been more developed and that we had seen more of them. I especially liked the relationship between Zanna and her quirky grandfather, and how Scientists are somewhat hidden from ‘the normal world’, but with presidents, officials etc. still knowing they exist: this way, they’re exceptional, but there’s no need for complete secrecy, keeping both worlds separated, having Zanna forever unable to share her new life with her ‘mundane’ family, and so on.

Overall I found the writing pleasant, and the book a quick, fun read, with the story always moving. The ‘scientific explanations’ peppered here and there may be difficult to follow for a younger audience, however the author usually made his explanations short enough, and with some very basic knowledge in chemistry and physics, they remain understandable. (Do middle grade kids still leanr that? I had physics lessons when I was 11-12, and we started chemistry at 12-13.) Anyway, I believe one can enjoy the plot and characters here even if having to gloss over the more ‘sciencey’ bits, since they effects they have are akin to ‘magic’, so the results can be observed nonetheless, so to speak. For instance, manipulating and changing the proprieties of nitrogen to make balloons fly: the result’s still flying in the end. (Bit of a pet peeve, though, for the use of the word ‘metallurgical’ throughout the book, because as far as I know, this world is related to the the extraction, refining etc. of metals, and has nothing to do with ‘illusions so complex that they’re not only visual, and actually feel real’. Every time the word popped up, it distracted me.)

Another peeve was the villain’s tendency to not reveal anything: ‘I’m doing this for your own good, because if I don’t, terrible things will happen to All The People You Love… but I’m never going to tell you what exactly will happen, trust me even though I’m the villain.’ I mean, I don’t know who would ever believe this would make a teenager keep quiet and passively accept all that’s happening to her. I’m much older than Zanna, and I still wouldn’t take that at face value either. Those reasons are never disclosed even at the end, so I do hope that there’s going to be a second instalment at some point: between that and Zanna’s second year at school, there’s definitely holes to close, and material to exploit.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Dora Mitchell.
Author 2 books5 followers
April 24, 2018
There's so much to love about The Zanna Function. Mystery, brainteasers, diverse characters, a fascinating world that's part of the regular everyday world, but still completely new and different -- but what I especially loved about Zanna is that it avoids the "Chosen One" trope. Zanna is a gifted, interesting, resourceful protagonist, but she isn't Harry Potter.

Yes, she's just discovering her place in this strange new world that most people don't even know exists, but no prophecies say she's headed for a special destiny. She isn't any more gifted than the other kids at her school. She's no more and no less than a smart kid going to a school for smart kids.

I think this makes for a more relatable character, and a better message, for middle grade readers than the usual Chosen One thing. Most of us know pretty early on that we're not the one that was foretold, the last hope, the Boy Who Lived, swamped with an unheard-of midichlorian count, etc. etc...so doesn't that make all those Chosen One narratives a little...well...depressing? The Chosen One trope means that most of us in the audience know we're never going to be the hero. We might get to be the sidekick, at best. So it's nice to read about a hero who's just plain good at using her head, and that's what gets her through this fantastic adventure. We can all strive to be that character.

Zanna also offers a fun take on STEM topics, as Zanna and her friends learn to manipulate the world around them through mathematical functions. It would be a great classroom read and Common Core curriculum tie-in, giving kids a new way to think about the math, chemistry, and physics at work all around them, all the time. Highly recommended for fans of sci-fi and magical school stories.
Profile Image for Sarah Perchikoff.
444 reviews29 followers
January 27, 2018
I will start this review off by saying this is not the kind of book I normally gravitate towards. It's got magic and a whole different world. In the book, this world is unknown to all us magic-less people (the Control Group) except for the President (uh oh!). What drew me to it was the main character being a "gifted" child. I was considered one of those and so were some of my friends and it's always fascinated me to learn about what happens when "gifted" kids finally meet a challenge; what happens when they finally fail. Zanna Mayfield doesn't necessarily fail but she does come up against a whole lot of intense challenges.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When fourteen-year-old Zanna Mayfield gets an acceptance letter from St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, she jumps at the chance to put her considerable intellect to good use. But nothing can prepare her for the first day, when she discovers that she is a Scientist —one able to see and bend the basic functions of the universe like velocity, gravity, and chemical reactions to her own purposes. 

As Zanna struggles to make friends and learn how to use her abilities at her new school, her troubles multiply when a mysterious stranger begins stalking her, dead set on keeping Zanna out of St. Pommeroy’s. If Zanna has any hope of finishing her first year, she’ll need to master every function she can get her mind around—including the one that defines Zanna herself.

The book starts off showing how much Zanna likes puzzles. She is obsessed with them. They challenge her in a way that school doesn't. But that's about to change for Zanna: she got into St. Pommeroy's School for Gifted Children. But once she finally gets there (after being lead to the wrong school at first), she realizes the school and who she is is much more complicated than she expected. She is a Scientist, which is pretty much the equivalent of a witch or wizard except instead of spells and wands, Scientists can see and manipulate elements, gravity, chemicals, and the basics part of our universe. There are multiple scenes where Zanna pulls carbon out of the air and uses it to help her get out of trouble. It is fascinating. But, as with any good fantasy book, I think, the story really revolves around Zanna and her relationships with other characters.

Zanna meets three girls her first couple days of school and they pretty much stick together throughout the story. Nora, Libby, and Beatrice are Zanna's best friends. If this was a Buzzfeed quiz, Nora would be the smart, Type-A one, Libby would the aggressive, tomboy one, and Beatrice would be the quiet, motherly, worrier one. They each hold a special place in Zanna's life and help her on her journey to discovering who she is and who is trying to hurt her. There is also Cedwick, who starts off as the snooty, legacy boy Zanna hates, but he soon turns into something more. (I ship them.)

There is also Zanna's relationship with her grandfather, Pops. Zanna lives with her grandfather because her dad is a pilot and travels all the time, and her mother died while giving birth to her. They have the sweetest, most heartwarming relationship. He is fully supportive of Zanna, even when she comes home talking about flying buses, talking lampposts, and playing with elements. He believes her every step of the way. He is never the clueless guardian. Also, when Zanna is hurt or in danger, he is one of the first people to be by her side to take care of her. Their relationship might be my favorite in the story. I could not get enough of Pops. The dialogue between the Zanna and him is wonderful.

There is also the relationship between Zanna and her magic. This is the first time Zanna has had to really try at school and there are definitely skills she finds harder to learn than others. The way the magic in the story works is that the Scientist has to picture the function in their head and focus it on it so thoroughly that they are able to bend the element to their will. The way I was picturing it was kind of like this gif:

To work with carbon, Zanna has to focus on the structure of it (C) and everything that affects it (gravity, pressure, etc.) so she can properly manipulate it. If she doesn't, bad things can happen. That being said, there are some parts of this book that are difficult to fully understand. Maybe it's because I haven't taken a science or math class in 5 years or because I am more of an English/History person than a Science/Math person, but there were definitely parts where I was a little confused. It doesn't take away from the story, but it did take me out it at times.

As we follow Zanna's journey, we see her skills as a Scientist grow. She repeatedly has to use them to get herself out of dangerous and precarious situations. It is pretty freaking awesome!

There is another relationship in the book, but talking about it would be a ginormous spoiler. I am usually not against spoilers, but this one shocked the hell out of me and I don't want to take that experience away from anyone. Let's just say, this person is the antagonist and Zanna has to fight them multiple times throughout the story.

The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger but it wasn't one I was angry at. It was a natural place to stop the story but I still wanted more (greedy!). I hope this is going to be a series because I would love to see how Zanna and her friends continue to grow up and how their magic develops.

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Out of 5 stars, I am giving The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley 4 out of 5 stars, The characters (especially Zanna) are well-developed and the storyline is a cool twist on the fantasy/magic stories we've seen in the past. The only problem I had was that parts of the story could be confusing to people not knowledgeable in science and math. If you know a girl who is into STEM, especially if she is young, get her this book! Either way, I would highly recommend The Zanna Function. It was a delight to read about Zanna coming into her own.

The Zanna Function comes out March 20, 2018.

Thank you, NetGalley and Jolly Fish Press for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Jill Elizabeth.
1,553 reviews37 followers
January 16, 2018
I am a huge fan of world-within-the-world (or -behind-the-world) books, in which self-described "average" or "outsider" characters who have always felt lost suddenly find out that the world is much bigger/different/stranger than everyone realized and that their outsider status in the *real* world was due to their exceptional positioning in the bigger/different/stranger world. When I started reading this, I sort of thought I'd be in for the usual ride on that train - then things rapidly got even bigger/more different/vastly stranger, and that's when I was completely hooked...

The Zanna Function is a fascinating sideways trip into a world of science that is more magical than most worlds of magic. There are truly unique elements (pun intended) at play here, and their intermingling with scientific principles and phenomena make for a very original and highly entertaining read. Zanna herself is a fascinating character. This is, in many ways, a personal growth tale as much as anything (as most YA stories tend to be), and while Zanna may doubt how much growing she's done throughout the course of this book (which, although not labeled as such, quite clearly felt like a Book One to me), I as a reader feel that it was both significant and a signal of even greater things to come. But the book didn't read like a lesson in growing up. It read like a tale of the frustration every one of us has felt when we've stumbled up against something bigger than ourselves that doesn't make sense or fit into our worldview, and that requires us to contemplate not only our own position in the world but also our own position within ourselves. Sorry if that sounds oblique, but it is a heartfelt obliquity, and one that I've been thinking about quite a bit both throughout my read and afterwards. There is, as again I find so often in YA novels, MUCH more going on here behind the scenes than a casual read might suggest, and that's where I think this novel really stands out for me. I found myself thoroughly engaged throughout the story, flipping pages as I wondered what on earth would happen next. I expect that in a well-written adventurous tale about worlds within worlds. What I don't expect, and what I was delighted to find, was myself equally engaged in thinking through many of the Self lessons that Zanna and her friends encountered, both at St. Pommeroy's and in the course of their travails with The Variable.

"A pile of rubble is stronger than a house, only because it cannot collapse again. One cannot be destroyed if she never rebuilds."

Read that one again - it's worth it. Then stop and think about what that says, and the depth and breadth of what it means. Then remind yourself you're reading YA fiction, not self-help or non-fiction or philosophy. Rather, you're reading a back-and-forth between Zanna and a teacher, handled bedside, after a rather seismic event in the course of the novel - and realize that it felt entirely organic to the story and the characters and not at all like self-help or non-fiction or philosophy injected into the midst of a magico-scientific (I don't know how else to describe it) story. The writing was strong and clear and the images burst of the pages. You can find that in stories like this one easily enough, if you look. But what you don't often find is that kind of self-reflection - and especially not positioned in such a way that it leaves the reader, not just the characters, contemplating its ramifications long after the "words" are uttered...

Then there's The Variable herself - and if there's a more fascinating villain this side of Voldemort, I am not sure if I can describe him/her/it. There is delicious evil here - and in the manner of all truly delicious evil, it's not ubiquitous, but rather couched in concern and humanity and a sense that maybe, just maybe, it's all a big misunderstanding and she's not *really* evil after all... Then things take several sharp left-right-back left again turns, and villain once again seems to be the operative term. But then again... Sound confusing? It is, in the best possible, mind-bending way. And it's all wrapped up in Zanna herSelf (capitalization intended), and that's where the delightful mysterious bizarreness really takes it's best turn - and where I seriously hope a sequel (or two) will come in!

This was a magnificent find and a great read.
Profile Image for Marzie.
1,133 reviews92 followers
March 21, 2018
I received a Digital Review Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Zanna Function is an interesting melding of science and fantasy set in a magical school. Zanna Mayfield, who lives with her grandfather, Pops, is caught off guard by an invitation to attend St. Pommeroy's School for Gifted Children. Without wanting to spoil some of the fun for the reader, after a rough start, Zanna begins her study of mathematics, chemistry, physics and self functions. These areas of study represent the modern version of the four historic subjects at St. Pommeroy, inscribed in stone at the entrance: Mathema, Al-kimia, Physis, and Episteme. The subjects are studied according to the idea of functions- both functionality and mathematic functions describing that functionality. Over the course of the first year, students hone their interests and decide upon a field of study. (Sort of like deciding to read physics at university, except these are high school kids.)

From Od Magic to Harry Potter to Miss Peregrine, there are certainly plenty of magical schools in fantasy out there, especially for middle-grade readers. Wheatley has managed to create a unique world and the depth of my love for a book with many female characters studying and excelling in STEM fields cannot be overestimated!

Although I often felt like the main characters of the story seemed younger than high school age children, the book still works well as a whole. I'm still not sure whether this was intended as a standalone (there is a good ending point here, that leaves room for sequels) or the start of a series. As a standalone, this is a book likely to entertain middle-grade students, especially girls who are looking for a sort of female version of Harry Potter who gets to be just as bright as Hermione.
Profile Image for bookellenic.
230 reviews81 followers
March 19, 2018
Harry Potter meets Mistborn in this middle grade novel, where the existence of true magic is possible thanks to SCIENCE! I absolutely adored this book!

Since middle grade is a little shunned of a genre in my opinion, I requested this book because of all the great memories I had of reading middle grade novels when I was younger, and I was not disappointed! The main element of this novel, which is the manipulation of science and the gifted people around the world who are capable of doing that, makes the plot of this book both intriguing and as close to reality as possible, with the impossible factor intricately woven in the story. If you think middle grade is not as complicated as young adult and adult fiction, this book will prove you wrong. It requires the reader’s undivided attention, so as to follow all the twists and turns and the hows and the whys of this story. The existence of romantic relationships amongst 14-year-olds was a bit of a surprise at first, but it is not at all a main point of focus in the plot.

As far as the characters are concerned, I liked the variety of personalities introduced in this novel, but I think that they did not reach their full potential within this book. I would have appreciated the relationships being more flushed out, regarding both the familial bonds as well as the friendships developing between the main character and her new friends. Moreover I have to admit that the protagonist, Zanna, whose perspective we follow in this book, was probably one of my least favourite charactes, because I couldn’t quite fathom her way of thinking of herself and the people around her. Although she was portrayed as shy, introverted and unaware of her abilities, more often than not she seemed judgemental, quite rude and ill-tempered. That being said, I did appreciate the fact that she took the time to criticize herself and her actions, thus bringing her to a point of character growth, which is one of the main messages a book should promote, as far as I am concerned. Besides, whether I personally like the main character is usually not a strong factor in my enjoyment level of reading, since I rather like seeing the thought process of a person so different to what I would do, think, or feel.

The Zanna Function is a novel that keeps you guessing and generates more questions than answers, which is how experiencing the world and finding yourself is all about. I have a few reservations regarding its structure, since I found the rather long chapters a bit tiresome at times, and to be honest I kept comparing it to other middle grade fantasies I have read, which have unavoidably quite a few similarities. There were also moments that my attention would drift and I would miss a part of the story without which understanding the rest was simply impossible, just because scientific facts and elements are such an ingrained yet challenging part of the story. Nevertheless, its educational value is striking and held my interest until the very end. I have to say that I would recommend this book not only to children but to adults as well!

Thank you to Netgalley and North Star Editions for providing me with an e-ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Erica.
120 reviews8 followers
August 16, 2018
Review originally published at my blog: https://livingahundredlives.wordpress...

The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley is an awesome read and I haven’t encountered anything like it before! To be honest, this has been sitting on my netgalley shelf for a long time now and I’ve always wanted to finally read it but then there’s my hectic schedule soooo. And I’m really glad I had the chance to pick it up!

This book makes me feel like a nerd (in a good way) and I’m loving it! It talks about mathematics, physics, chemistry and the self as the main courses in St. Pommeroy’s. “Everything in the universe has a function.” This read will make you look at things a little differently. Like yes, everything has a function but not just their “uses”. The function wherein math is concerned. Formulas. It’s chemical composition, the mass, amount, and even the different forces acting on it. In line with that, there’s the self function. How you’re made up and wouldn’t it be great if we’d also have the ability to look and delve deeper into our self function?

So the title says it all. The Zanna Function. Zanna Mayfield is the MC and the book talks about functions. Zanna is a genius 14-year-old. Her scientific and mathematical abilities are outstanding. She was later invited to attend St. Pommeroy’s School for the Gifted wherein children like her are to study. Zanna is a bit stubborn, like just a tiny bit. She’s really loving though, to her family and friends. And really very brave. She’s a fighter and would do anything in her power to save her loved ones.

This is really a refreshing read. The first chapters got me hooked instantly. I had really big expectations for this book and it didn’t disappoint at all. This is really an interesting read. It’s quite fast-paced though there were a few times that gave me a “meh” feeling. Still, if you look at the big picture, the story is pretty great. Kudos to the author because this feels like a unique idea. Or if there’s some book similar to this, please let me know, I’ll gladly check it out too!

Really impressive world building. Though I wish that the time they spent in school was explored more. I was really looking forward to that part and wish for more chapters set in St. Pommeroy’s. The other ones are pretty great too. The closure between Zanna and the Variable isn’t that satisfying for me. I wanted more, “boom” factor. The book ended pretty good though.

This would make a fun read for MG and YA readers alike. Though, I’ll recommend simpler terms if it’s to be read by a younger audience since some might have a difficulty in absorbing it. Overall, I rate The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley, 4 out of 5 stars!

*** I have received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Atsu.
94 reviews7 followers
February 22, 2018
“A pile of rubble is stronger than a house, only because it cannot collapse again.”

You know me, I love science-based magic. Even though The Zanna Function was yet another “Surprise, you're Special! Welcome to your new Special school with other Special children!”, I still had a good feeling about it.

One day, Zanna receives an invitation to a prestigious school for Special– I mean Gifted* (*wink*) children. In this world, Scientists are able to manipulate and mold things by understanding their functions through maths, physics, chemistry, etc.

Now, I'm not gonna lie: I'm an idiot when it comes to Science. I love it, but the moment it gets a bit complex or there are formulae involved, my brain draws a blank. Which is why I am very thankful that the author made sure to clearly explain how his magic worked.
I mean, we have all read authors who just like to throw big complicated words and notions, and who cares if the readers don't understand? It's magic after all. Not here. Big kudos. Especially because it really is central to the story, it's worth re-reading a paragraph once or twice.

Even though the magic system was really well-handled, the majority of the book still felt a bit generic. I really enjoyed the first half of the story where Zanna learns all about her abilities and this brand new world, but... except for Pops, I feel like I barely know the other characters, even Zanna's closest friends in St. Pommeroy. (Beatrice is a treasure, though.)
Talking about Pops, his relationship with Zanna is one of the sweetest thing I have ever read. It's so refreshing that Zanna tells him everything about her new life and abilities, you know? No lies, only love.

Then, there is the second half of the book where Zanna goes through a lot of challenges and where the villain becomes central. It was slow. So slow, when it was supposed to be intense. The villain was interesting (I don't even want to use their name because spoilers!) but suffered from the “I'm doing this to save the world, trust me even though I will never explain to you what is going on” Syndrome and that quickly became annoying. So, yeah, I may have skipped a paragraph here and there towards the end. :/

Overall, the world-building and the way Scientists fit in this world were quite good. Zanna is a smart and lovable character and I was definitely rooting for her. The writing is very nice, but the book lost a bit of its steam in the second half, which is why I can't go higher than 3 stars.

Thank you Daniel Wheatley, North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press and NetGalley for providing this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
March 15, 2018
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Zanna Function is a middle grade fantasy read with a very interesting idea for magic. While I do have some bits and pieces to pick with this book, I overall enjoyed it very much and will eagerly await to see how this will continue. Because this cannot be a standalone!

Overal the Zanna Function was written well. I did find some of the descriptions a tad on the boring bit. They made me zone out a bit which is a shame because some of those descriptions did tap into the magic bit. This is a magic school but please don’t let that bit stop you from picking this up. The magic is basically science and I liked how that was approached.

Story wise I thought this was an interesting, action and adventure plot. There were certainly moments where I was sure Zanna was right in her assumptions and other times where I doubted her. This mostly in case as to who the protagonist really was. I did find that the jumps we made throughout the school year were too big. I just would have loved more of a slower line in that. It was hard to feel that the end of the book was also the end of the school year. It felt like we were fast forwarded.

I did find that I found it hard to really feel as if our protagonist was really a threat. Their intentions did not seem to be very clear or jointed. I think that did take some of the impact out of the story at the end. However I see a lot of potential here. For a great world building. Great characters and an interesting magic system.

Speaking of characters, Zanna was a delight of a main character. She is actually really smart. It isn’t just said that she is but you can actually see in her actions and thought patterns that she is. This counts for her class mates as well. But the author also doesn’t forget that they are also still just 14. I liked how she seemed to instantly gravitate towards the girls. There was no real animosity there which was a great fresh of breath air to other school books. She does struggle with a boy but that didn’t really turn a romantic way.

I have to say that I loved Zanna’s relationship with her grandfather. She lives with him because of her father’s job that takes him away often. He is so supportive of her and there are just bits and things that show how well they know each other.
Profile Image for Tara Gilboy.
Author 2 books45 followers
March 19, 2018
Wow, The Zanna Function was an absolute delight to read. It has this very classic feel to it – it reminds me a bit of Harry Potter, as some other reviewers have mentioned, but also The Golden Compass, not only because of the scientific and fantastical plot elements, but also because of the style and tone of the writing. (The Variable has this delightful “Mrs. Coulter” feel to her.) I also love how what we would call “magic” in any other novel is explained scientifically in these pages. Zanna is an endearing character, as is her grandfather, “Pops.” If the premise of the novel hadn’t already hooked me right away, Daniel Wheatley’s voice certainly would have: the writing is beautiful. A wonderful novel: I hope there is a follow up to this – I would love to read more about Zanna’s adventures!
Profile Image for Laura Hill.
796 reviews50 followers
December 25, 2017
Writing: 4 Plot: 3 Characters: 3
Context / world building: 4

A YA adventure story based on Scientists who use their superior intelligence to engage with the world via direct manipulation of the Functions that comprise any object (or person). Students at St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children (which is a kind of Hogwarts for Scientists) study a combination of Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and Self, where the latter is an exploration of the extremely complex function that describes a unique human being.

Zanna is thrilled when she is invited by mysterious letter to attend the school due to her promising intellect. However, things start to go wrong even before she makes it on the first day. Someone is trying to kidnap her and even the Primers (the Scientist police force) appear to be stymied.

The writing is good and the story is interesting. I wonder if the author served a stint as a middle school science teacher because he does a good job of making the science approachable and interesting. He does a plausible job of explaining how any object is kind of the sum of the functions that describe and engage with it. To me the characters act more like middle school kids than high school kids. And I found the random, non-essential asides about who liked whom and who was dating whom to be completely gratuitous and jarring with the rest of the pure adventure oriented plot. I don’t understand why the author (a man) decided to write a book about a female protagonist, but the lines about dating and the constant reference to “the girls” really didn’t ring true to me. And although the situation is resolved at the end, we don’t actually get closure as to the “how” and “why”. Perhaps this is leading up to another book, but I’m not really happy with the way things were left.
Profile Image for Vikki P.
125 reviews35 followers
March 3, 2018
I received an e-ARC of The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Zanna Function is the story of a scientifically inclined fourteen year old girl who gets accepted into St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, a school that was quite reminiscent of Hogwarts albeit, with Scientists instead of magic-wielders. This is quite possibly the reason I loved the book. More than all the adventures in Harry Potter, I loved the day-to-day descriptions of Hogwarts and it was kind of refreshing to read about St. Pommeroy’s – a whole new world to discover.

As for the characters, Zanna was a pretty decent character but what I actually loved was the relationship she has with her grandfather Pops. Not a lot of books represent strong familial relations, but Zanna confides in Pops about everything and trusts him immensely and I found that adorable.

Another character that I want to mention here is Cedwick. Cedwick is a boy in Zanna’s class and bore quite a few similarities (minus the Slytherin upbringing) to Draco Malfoy. What kind of troubled me was how rude Zanna was to him without giving him a single chance. Just because Cedwick looked mildly arrogant to her, she immediately cut him off and treated him quite poorly and somehow that infuriated me slightly.

Lastly, there were a few parts in the middle where there was a lot of Science and while most of the book handled it well, it did get slightly boring at one point.

The book or the Goodreads page don’t clear whether there will be a sequel to the book but I sincerely hope so as I do want a lot more world-building regarding St. Pommeroys and Scientists, and would love to read more about Zanna’s adventures.
Profile Image for Nate.
962 reviews13 followers
December 30, 2017
3.25 stars

The Zanna Function is science-based magic book where everything is controlled through the use of its function (kind of the sum of its makeup, previous experiences, and presence), which Scientists, the people who can do this, learn through Chemistry, Physics, Self, and Maths. It follows a girl from our world, Zanna, who discovers that she is Scientist and attends their school, St Pommeroy's. She is being chased by this strange person, however, who attempts to stop her from attending this school. As Zanna goes through school, she must face this person in order to ensure her safety.

The novel makes for something of an adventure novel, as very little of it is actually based at the school. It keeps your interest pretty well because of its relatively brisk pace and short length; the story always seemed to be moving. The characters, while kind of wooden, were each unique, none feeling like a filler. I wasn't surprised by what Zanna chooses at the end, but it made the book go up half a star because it fit perfectly with the whole story. My only qualm with the story is that I don't see many kids being familiar with things like friction, Newton's laws, or atomic structure (among other things), so I think that this book may be a little off-putting when it hits the school section. A lack understanding, however, does not impede the progression or fun of the story, so it isn't too much of an obstacle. I enjoyed this a lot, and I think this book is perfect for kids who like reading and science.

A digital copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Mac.
79 reviews3 followers
October 26, 2017
For a middle grade fiction, I. ACTUALLY. ENJOYED. IT.

The plot of the book was light and easy to read. It gave me headaches because it reminded me of my subjects during high school; mathematics, chemistry and physics. It was fun to reminisce those subjects. Says no one ever. (Haha!)

The characters in the book are typical for me. They are the usual characters you seem to find me in a school where grades are important and rules are made to be broken. Sadly, I have to point out that I had a hard time differentiating the three girlfriends that Zanna Mayfield has. (Probably a change in their accent or language to set them each apart?)

I love also the representation of the teachers this are the stereotypical teachers that you would most likely find. I personally love Professor Fitzie. I think I can relate to her more than Professor Ms. Trout. If I would become a teacher, I would prefer to put positivity in everyone to encourage learning than use fear as a method of teaching.

In this book, there is a thing called an IRON. This iron is an object that you can relate to. This said object will also be part of your everyday life. If I had an Iron, I would prefer to be light like glasses or watch. I don’t like carrying objects and prefer to be on the go when the need arises.

Overall, I like it. It’s fun and easy to read. I would recommend this for people who likes a touch of magic and science. If you love Harry Potter you might want to check this out.

This book will be release on March 20, 2018.

Follow my other reviews on www.boywhocriedbooks.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Melissa.
3 reviews7 followers
January 19, 2018
I liked the main character, Zanna, from the first moment. She’s a smart and unique girl, who was searching for her “right” place in the world to stay; it gave me strong Harry Potter vibes, with her starting to attend the new school and learning everything about how to use her own abilities.

I loved the world built by the author. It was so fascinating and refreshing from the usual fantasy or magic world. Sometimes I admit I struggle understanding how things work and are built in fictional worlds; in this case, however, everything was clear and new and exciting at the same time. I also think the characters were very well portrayed, Zanna in primis, as we learn a lot about her and her way of thinking while we read the novel. The other characters are all endearing and funny.

I enjoyed every moment I spent reading Zanna’s story. It warmed my heart multiple times and it also made me stay in suspense and eager to know what it would happen next. The only thing I didn’t really like is the way everything resolved in a short time. I think there was much more space to deepen characters and relationships and some things were left there hanging. As far as I know, this is a stand-alone, but I really think this would have worked better as a duology or as a series. There is much more to tell about this world and about Zanna’s future and I really hope that maybe, in the future, a sequel is announced. All in all, I think the ending was pretty good, I just hoped to see more development.
Profile Image for Jeeps (immovabletype).
117 reviews5 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
October 18, 2017
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of The Zanna Function through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. As I did not finish the book I don't feel it's fair to give it a star rating, but having read about a third of it I can offer a few thoughts. This borrows very heavily from the particular narrative structure of Harry Potter, hitting most of the same beats with numerous equivalencies to serve similar storytelling purposes within the worldbuilding. This isn't inherently a bad thing; I believe The Lightning Thief did much the same thing. It wasn't my jam there either, and I chose not to continue the series, though of course Percy Jackson has been enormously successful in its own right. There are certainly readers who may get a lot out of Zanna's world, especially if they feel the highly logical, science-based magical system adds something to the Magical School™ canon (this is basically like STEM Hogwarts). For me, however, these books that owe so much of not just their existence but their structure to Harry Potter only invite comparison, and it just doesn't land with the same charm and ease of visualizing the world.
Profile Image for D. B. Guin.
842 reviews75 followers
November 14, 2017
I expected this book to be enjoyable, but very familiar. How many books are there about a kid getting an out-of-the-blue invitation to a school that teaches a magical, illegal, or otherwise unusual skill set? H.I.V.E., Evil Genius, Spy School, The Girl Who Could Fly, Steel Trapp: The Academy, Harry Potter, the Tapestry series... etc.

What sprang to mind instantly upon reading the synopsis for The Zanna Function was Simon Bloom: Gravity Keeper, which has a very similar premise. I liked Simon Bloom, so I expected to like Zanna, and I was right! This book was enjoyable. But it was also much better than Simon Bloom.

First of all, I loved how Zanna told everything to her grandfather, and there was no annoying false life or facade to keep up. Mostly, though, the as-yet-unexplained mystery about The Zanna Function's antagonist, and the book's concept of Self, added a level to the book that goes beyond the generic outline of a "special school, secret world" story. I look forward to seeing more.
Profile Image for thebooknookae.
106 reviews12 followers
December 27, 2017
Book: The Zanna Function
Author: @danielwheatley
Publisher: @jollyfishpress
My rating: 🦋🦋🦋/5
A fourteen year old girl, Zanna Mayfield gets an invitation to join a magical school for gifted children. However this isnt a typical magical, wizards school. Every student at St. Pommerys is gifted with a unique ability to bend and mend with science. Zanna is put through some really hard times throughout her first year which gives her a chance to learn the depth of her abilities.
So i wont say this book was as good as Harry Potter but it was definitely close, if you’re a HP fan then you will definitely enjoy this magical read. The book is well written, very different from other fantasy books, the places and characters are well described and very easy to like.
One of the books that leaves you with this-shit-was-lit feeling. Must read, recommended to readers of all ages ❤️
*This book was sent to me by @netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
February 11, 2020
This book is so much fun, and so important too. I honestly wish I had this growing up as a girl wanting to pursue a STEM career. The Zanna Function is like Harry Potter meets science, and I can’t think of a better combination. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I picked this up, but I was delightfully surprised with what I read, from the important themes of familial love and strong friendships right to the importance of philosophy and understanding ones self, and the role that has in science (something I find is wholly glazed over in most works regarding STEM). These themes mixed with the intriguing plot (although predictable in points) made for a fun and interesting read. The antagonist was definitely a stand out for me, and the author did a fantastic job of turning science into something more magical. I only wish Zanna’s friends were a little more developed, but other than that I absolutely adored this book. I really hope it will be the first in a series!
Profile Image for Lael Braday.
Author 11 books13 followers
January 31, 2018
Zanna is accepted into the St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, where she learns that she is a Scientist, who can bend the rules of physics. A mysterious woman attempts to prevent her from attending the school, and Zanna must draw upon her new abilities, resources, and friends to fight her. The secret she discovers about the woman must be setting Zanna’s story up for a series.

This story sets up the conflict immediately with the mystery woman thwarting Zanna’s attendance at the school through scientific “magic,” carefully detailed by Wheatley. The capabilities taught in the school intrigue Zanna, and the reader needn’t be a scientist to follow along.

I was fortunate to receive a digital ARC through NetGally of this delightful story.
Profile Image for Lija Fisher.
Author 2 books56 followers
June 24, 2018
The worldbuilding in this book was really great. The story starts with a Potter-esque feel of a girl, Zanna, going off to a special school where she learns things that may seem like magic, but are actually based in science. The exploration of metallurgy reminded me a lot of Brandon Sanderson's 'Mistborn' series, and I love me some Sanderson! But just when you think you're settling in to a story about a magical school, a twist comes part way through and throws you into a world of mystery and adventure where the most dangerous person to Zanna may actually be herself. I turned the last page and was definitely ready for more of this world!
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,417 reviews151 followers
January 24, 2018
*thank you to Netgalley and Flux/Jolly Fish Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*

2 stars.

DNF @ 21%

I wanted to like this. It seemed like a scifi version of Harry Potter, but I dont know if it was just me, or the book, but I just couldnt get into this. I am definitely the odd one out here as others seem to love it. I do want to re-read this, give it another chance, as it does have potential but for now im leaving it.
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