Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The The Hypnotists: Book 1 - Audio Library Edition

The The Hypnotists: Book 1 - Audio Library Edition

Gordon Korman
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Ramon Ocampo
Scholastic Audio Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-0545602723

Jackson Opus, otherwise known as Jax, has unusual eyes. They seem to change color, and people often comment on them. Jax doesn’t really think too much about his eyes until strange things start to happen. It all really begins when Jax is participating in a basketball game.  The game is almost over and when Jax looks at his opponent he has a strange vision. He wishes, under his breath, that his opponent, who is about to make a shot at the basket, will “Miss!” Somehow, even though the player is amazingly good, he misses the shot.  Jax begins to wonder if his vision, or hallucination, had something to do with the player missing the shot.

   Jax has other visions in the days following the game and so his parents send him to have his eyes tested. There is nothing wrong with them, but the doctor who examines his eyes has a nervous breakdown during the examination. When Jax is taken to see a psychiatrist he has another vision and the doctor almost jumps out of his office window. It is almost as if Jax is able to make people do what he wants them to do, but surely that’s impossible.

   When Jax talks things over with Tommy, his best friend, Tommy reminds Jax that strange things have been happening around him since Jax was a little boy. Jax got into the debate team even though he is a terrible debater and for some inexplicable reason people voted for him to be on the student council. Jax reluctantly agrees that perhaps he is able to influence people sometimes, but why.

   Then Jax is invited to go to the Sentia Institute, which is run by a man called Dr. Elias Mako. Jax will be part of their New Horizons program because he has “demonstrated exceptional skills in the field of communications.” What does that even mean?  Jax soon finds out and he can hardly believe what he is told.

   Jax comes from a long line of very powerful hypnotists on his father’s side. Apparently hypnotists, who are sometimes called benders or sandmen, have been manipulating history for centuries, and many very famous people were benders. Dr. Mako wants to help Jax harness his considerable ability so that he can contribute to society. Or at least that is what Dr. Mako says.

   At first Jax is happy to believe Dr. Mako, but then he meets another sandman called Axel Braintree who asks Jax if he is sure that Dr. Mako is telling him everything. Axel tells Jax that he is not related to just one line of hypnotists. His mother also belongs to a family that has a famous “hypnotic legacy.” Axel’s information starts Jax thinking. Could it be that Dr. Mako’s motives are not as pure as they seem? Could it be that Dr. Mako is using his own skills as a bender to get Jax and everyone else to do what he wants?

   In this remarkable book the author takes his listeners on an extraordinary journey into the world of hypnotism and hypnotists. It is fascinating to see how Jax copes as he tries to figure out what is the truth and what is not, and as he tries to protect himself and those he cares about from a conspiracy of monumental proportions.