A seemingly random act of gang violence sends “Naz” Andersen on a quest to find answers surrounding his dead parents that lead to a series of discoveries about his supernatural abilities. Naz tries to stay out of the way at his foster parent’s home, but he walks in his sleep, and he is unable to keep the fact that he hears voices from his therapist. He attempts to go unnoticed at school and in the streets of the Exclave, but attracts the attention of friends and bullies alike, and his efforts to protect his little sister make him the target of malicious bullying by the notorious street gang, Incubus Apostles. Naz is an ordinary thirteen-year-old, or so he thinks. He harbors a secret that even he is oblivious to, and a series of ill-fated events reveal to him telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Now he must navigate newly found friendship and gang violence, and face the full force of the world around him. The only way he can survive is to discover the supernatural world within. -Goodreads description
IA: Initiate wasn’t what I expected it to be, but I mean that in a good way. This coming of age novel has a classic hero archetype (mysterious circumstances surrounding birth, orphaned, hidden talents, a quest- of sorts) but Naz is also very real and not removed from life or sitting on a pedestal. Naz is brought down to earth through his relationship with his little sister, Meri. Their interactions are believable, enjoyable, and reveal a gentle side to his character that the reader may not have been able to see otherwise.
We also get a special glimpse into his brain and the workings of his mind through his psychiatrist appointments, which were vaguely reminiscent of Good Will Hunting (abused child with extraordinary abilities) though just what those abilities may be are yet to be fully explained.
I was intrigued by the mystery of his background, drawn in by the real dangers on the streets that he inhabited, and fascinated when his talents began to slowly reveal themselves. The author maintained an excellent pace for this story at all times. It never dragged nor was it rushed. Great writing is a skill and John Darryl Winston clearly has it.
Honestly, I was disappointed when this book ended- I wanted more! What a relief that this is a series.
Fans of Divergent may enjoy this (Chicago-ish setting, coming of age, more action than romance). I highly recommend it.
I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program. Thank you for reading!