Steel Trapp: The Academy by Ridley Pearson

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Steel Trapp: The Academy is Ridley Pearson’s second book with Steel Trapp as an adolescent protagonist with a “mind like a steel trap.” Steel can remember anything he sees or reads verbatim, and it is this amazing talent that is the corner stone of the series.  Pearson’s talent for creating fast paced plots that twist and turn keeps his readers rapidly turning pages. Pearson believes that writing page turners is a literary category he calls “aerobic fiction.”  When you add Pearson’s knack for developing realistic characters, you have an exciting and suspenseful story that flies by so fast you can’t help wondering how you got to the last page so quickly.

To say I loved Steel Trapp: The Academy is almost an understatement. I literally devoured the book.  One thing I have always disliked about series is that if I jump into one before reading the first book I feel a bit disoriented. I can truthfully say that if you have not read Steel Trapp: The Challenge (although I highly recommend this book too) you will not be lost. Pearson does an excellent job providing you with all the background you need to be fully invested in the characters and their backgrounds.

If you have read Steel Trapp: The Challenge then you will be pleased (as was I) that Kaileigh, who played a major role in Pearson first book, is also a character in The Academy.  Both Steel and Kaileigh find themselves students at Wynncliffe Academy, an isolated and relatively unknown boarding school located on the east coast where students do not apply, but are invited to apply.  These invitations are based on student’s talents like Steel’s photographic mind and Kaileigh’s ability to impersonate just about anything or anyone. Together, Steel and Kaileigh make a great duo as they try to uncover the secrets surrounding Wynncliffe. Why are students, with varying talents invited to the school? Why does the school seems to fly under the radar instead of openly recruiting students? And how are upperclassmen are able to vanish from one building only to appear at another?

While Steel is the main protagonist in this series (after all both books are titled Steel Trapp), Kaileigh is certainly a very important aspect of both stories. As I said, I really was pleased that Pearson included Kaileigh again in this second book. I like her a lot and she offsets Steel’s personality very nicely. Even Steel recognizes her value:

“Kaileigh was smarter than he was—he knew that. She lacked his photographic memory, a condition that tricked people into thinking he as smarter than he was. She, on the other hand, had a bright intelligence and street smarts that permeated everything she did. She had a keen sense about people, and plenty of nerve.”

I loved the way Pearson added a little bit of romance between the two, too and the reactions of the two characters towards each other were right on the mark. Steel gets embarrassed at the thought of kissing; where as Kaileigh is quite pragmatic about using it as a diversion. Both their reactions seemed quite appropriate for 14-year-olds, and it was even comical in a very lighthearted way.

As mentioned earlier Pearson’s plot drives the story. There are actually two stories going on at the same time. One of course involves Steel and Kaileigh discovering the real reason they were invited to the school, and the other is about some street kids who carry out hotel heists for a mysterious lady. Pearson alternates between the two stories, and while I continually tried to predict how the two separate stories would eventually merge, all I can say is that the climax was a surprise and the ending quite satisfying.

Another interesting element of the plot that didn’t directly drive the story forward, but definitely added to the overall experience of the read was the introduction of a sport known as Ga-ga. The game is a form of dodge ball played in a pit. The object of the game is to eliminate your opponents by striking them below the waist. And yes, Ga-ga is a real sport that may have originated in Israel. Pearson uses the sport to highlight Steel’s natural ability to recognize patterns, remember them, and create tension with another character.

Pearson does a fantastic job with his second Steel Trapp book. In fact, I think that the Academy is even better than the first. The plot is completely engaging and unique and each of the  characters offer aspects to the story that make it an exciting read. I am really hoping that this will not be the last we see of  Steel and Kaileigh, or Wyncliffe Academy.

1 Delicious Comments:

Dreaming of Ink. said...

Thank you. You MUST read the Vampire diaries. L.J Smith has an amazing imagination that shines especially in the last two books. You just earned yourself a new followers! Lovely blog.

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