Saturday, 9 November 2013

Review: The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Korman's new novel The Hypnotists is the first Gordon Korman novel I've read in YEARS--and I was not disappointed. This middle grade novel was exciting, packed with suspense and, of course, the art of hypnotism. The power of the human mind to change the world is a crucial focal point of the novel and the ways that Dr. Mako is ability to manipulate an entire city into believing the truths he implants in their minds and rig an election really makes you think about the 'what if.' For a society that is so dependent on the Internet, and particularly social media outlets like social media, if true hypnotism was possible, Korman's story points out just how much danger we would all be in.

The Hypnotists discusses hypnotism in the sense of subliminal messages, behavioural modification, and psychological manipulation. He does call attention to the other kind--the type that exists in psychiatrist's offices, but hypnotism for medicinal purposes doesn't possess the same power that people like Mako and Jackson have.
Jackson Opus is a young boy who has a natural hypnotic abilities as the descendent of two powerful hypnotist families. He is recruited by the Sentia Institute where his powers are honed. He meets other hypnotists and sees how the mind can be tricked, changed, and forced into doing what another wants as easily as looking at someone and focusing.

Of course, nothing is what it seems and Jackson has to figure out who the real enemy is as weird things start happening. Soon, Jackson's friends, family, and the entire city are in great danger as a certain someone starts using hypnotism for very wrong and self-serving reasons. It's a classic story of great power in the wrong hands; an immoral use of something that CAN be used for good.

The climax of the novel--the showdown between Jackson and person X--had me hooked on every word. The ending, where we see Jackson's maturity and selflessness, was what really took me off-guard. You won't see it coming either. From beginning to end, this book is great. Don't be put off by the fact that it's middle grade. Gordon Korman is one hell of a writer. I can't imagine what he could do with this novel written for adults.

Sure, the changing eye-colour part of Korman's hypnotism was a little cheesy, but the undeniable power and ability of these people to hypnotize mass groups of people without their awareness and through the use of the Internet (basically through Youtube--now THERE is a scary possible reality for us!) was terrifying and exciting. As many people do believe that hypnotism is real, the book is able to hit home. Especially if you, like me, have ever gone to see a hypnotist perform on stage.

Much like fellow YA heroes, Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen, Jackson has the entire fate of the world resting on his young shoulders. Korman takes an age-old idea and revamps it into this exciting, suspenseful, and action-packed story that both kids and adults alike will enjoy.

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