Review: Discern by Andrea Pearson

Posted November 16, 2014 by Sophia

Discern by Andrea Pearson

Katon University #1
Andrea Pearson
Publication Date: 2014
Publisher: Self Published
Reviewer: Sophia

Nicole Williams is an Arete—a fourth child with magical abilities—yet no matter how hard she tries, she can’t Channel her power. In fact, she seems to be the only student at Katon University who fails at magic.

That doesn’t stop magic from finding her. It starts with possessed books and cursed spiders before moving quickly to freaky shadows and magical currents. Nicole turns to her best friend for help, along with fellow student Austin Young, who is considered by all a magical rarity. He also happens to be the hottest guy on campus and just might be interested in her.

Nicole soon finds herself competing to be included on a university-led expedition to Arches National Park. She is determined to show everyone, but mostly herself, that she does belong. Yet, to qualify for the trip, she must produce at least a speck of Wind magic, and that appears to be impossible.

As the competition progresses, Nicole wonders if she’s making the right choice—especially when she learns that the strange fossils they’ll be studying in Arches might not be as dead as everyone thinks.

Updated review copy provided by the author for review via I Am A Reader

It’s been so long since I’ve come across a book with a 4.5 out of 5 rating, I am DANCING while writing this review. LITERALLY. Giddiness and all. Pigs are flying. Cows are singing.

Andrea Pearson’s idea about the fourth child having magical powers – called Aretes – has got to be AMAZING. Nearly magic book involving kids almost always have something to do with the seventh child. Seven is like a magic number or something. 777! Since Triple Six is so bad, is the sixth child a squib or purely evil? Totally Satan’s pawn. *roll of eyes*

Attitude aside, Andrea Pearson’s idea goes into a different concept entirely (what a nice change). Until THIS is revealed:

People with naturally blond hair weren’t common. Neither were people with hair that was truly red, like Lizzie’s. Most Aretes, in the States especially, had light or dark brown hair, making them Water and Earth Aretes respectively.

Guys, I feel very left out. Where do those with black hair fit in? I mean… are we Satanic pawns? Surely I should feel some evilness coursing through my veins if that’s the case?

Lupe: You’re so negative – you find something bad about EVERY BOOK.
Me: And you’re too positive. I swear pink and purple unicorns are invading your blog.
Lupe: Positivity is essential to good health.
Me: Isn’t it happiness is essential to good health? Books are happiness. I’m as healthy as a horse. Your argument is invalid.
Lupe: *facepalm*

The relationships between Nicole and her mom is very weird. Nicole calls her mom by her name, which probably has a reason (rarely are parents act like, “Hey! Let’s be professionals and call each other by name! I’m John and this is Jane…”). Her mom acts like she’s Nicole’s older sister to the point where I’m wondering if a) Tiffany is Nicole’s real mom, b) Tiffany is just one of those rare parents, c) Tiffany is Nicole’s governess, or d) Tiffany is Nicole’s stepmom and Nicole just calls her mom because her real mother disappeared at birth. Or died.

The relationship between Nicole and Austin is also a little weird, though not as weird as with her mom. Nicole and Austin seem to act as though they’re power buttons – off for awhile, then flip! They get along. Then the cycle continues. But if it makes the not-so-romantic ones (like me) out there really happy, Pearson doesn’t push the two characters together forcibly in Discern, and Nicole is thankfully not as romantically obsessed as her friend Lizzie. And not as obsessed as Lupe (she is a terrible matchmaker):

Me: I plan to stay single and own Pringles one day. I may buy some stock.
Lupe: *shakes head* One day, I’m going to prove you wrong.
Me: Then I plan to push away every single guy. I’m not friends with any guy in our school anyways…
Lupe: Are you sure? You’re friends with a few.
Me: *starts complaining about being poked all the time in Honors Literature*

It’s just so nice when the main character is more determined to prove herself to others that she belongs at Katon University than more determined to get a boyfriend.

I think the best part to the first book in the Katon University series is the interesting history and background as Pearson talks about the Aretes, the Shoggoths, the Agarths, etc. Pearson does it all while keeping the story perfectly paced, intriguing and not repeating multiple plots. The way Pearson actually mentions her other series (Kilenya) quite vaguely makes me very curious about reading The Keys of Kilenya (which I have, but since Kilenya and Katon University aren’t spin-offs of each other, I doubt it’ll be very connected…) and excited to what Nicole and the other characters will be set up against in the sequel to Discern.

Random Thought: That cover seems to be a very accurate depiction of Nicole…

4.5 Owls

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Sophia is a socially awkward Communications major who has a GIF for nearly everything and is frequently in a Hogwarts House Crisis. More of her bookish reviews can be found at The Arts STL.

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