Review of “The Psi Squad”, by Mark Feggeler

Some kids do great at math.  Some show terrific athletic prowess.  Others, while perhaps not so popular, still muddle through their school years the best they can with the few friends that they have.

Julius has none of these aspects working in his favor.  Uprooted from his home and non-existent circle of friends, he is forced to live with his grandparents until his parents can sell the old house and join him.

J.B., as he prefers to be called, is a loner’s loner.  Ignored by everyone at his new school and barely tolerated by his grandparents, his only companions are his spots.

J.B. sees…spots.

Blobs of color, actually.  They float around everywhere, and change the moods of the people who become surrounded by them, which is J.B.’s only entertainment.  Of course, he keeps his ability to himself.  It’s enough to be ignored; to be shunned deliberately for being a weirdo would be far worse.

A few days into the school year, he notices another loner, a strange girl by the name of Rhea.  It’s not her looks, or her charm, that catches his notice–for she has neither of these.  He notices that she reacts to the spots J.B. sees; she even talks to them.  Excited to find a kindred spirit at last, he tries to get to know her better.

But his plans are thwarted by a small accident.  This accident’s name is William, called “Mole” by those kids who notice him at all.

After the rather rough meeting between the two boys, they become friends after a fashion–two against the tide, so to speak.  William is like a puppy dog, ever eager to please.  But, unfortunately, he’s merely an irritation to most people.

It is a chance, and rather frightening, meeting in the school hallway that draws Rhea and J.B. together.  It isn’t easy, but J.B. finally draws the information out of Rhea that she can’t actually see the orbs, but she can feel their emotions.  Therefore she has some idea of who the big yellow blob is that follows her around.

The blob’s behavior leads the three kids into a years-old mystery, which eventually finds them locked in the vaults under the school.  It is here that they make a frightening discovery, but in the process they ease a pair of restless souls into the next life.

William nicknames the trio the Psi Squad, happy to be a part of something at last.  Rhea still wants nothing to do with either William or J.B.  Or so she says.

And J.B. hopes that this won’t be their last adventure together.

Aimed toward late grade school toward middle school kids, this is a coming-to-grips-with-oneself story that is always a pleasure to read.  Anyone who has risen out of obscurity from among his or her peers can relate to this tale.  I highly doubt that praises and accolades will be heaped upon this strange trio, but at least they themselves learn their own worth.  And that is a start.

This book is a little different, though; instead of the usual “we united against the world” group of close-knit pals, we find in “Psi Squad” three people who really do not mesh at all.  But somehow it works, whether it be because of the odd talents of J.B. and Rhea, or because the three of them recognize, grudgingly, that there is something to be liked in each of them, and in themselves.

William is my favorite character; despite all of the slings and arrows life throws at him, he continues to cheerfully shake them off and keep going.  His is the most powerful personality because he is confident in himself, and what’s more, he relies on his own abilities, not on something out of the ordinary.

I’m fairly positive that there will be more adventures for this trio of misfit almost-friends.  Bring them on!

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