"The first time Taemon's brother tried to kill him was the night Uncle Fierre came over with his unisphere."
Uh - oh. That's the first sentence of Freakling by Lana Krumwiede. 12 year old Taemon can look inside things to see how they work. This is a form of "psi" that is not appreciated in his city. It might even be considered dangerous. His older brother, Yens, considers Taemon a "Weakling" or person with little "psi", the power to move things through thought - telekenesis. The entire City is run by psi. Children born without psi are sent away. People in the City cannot open doors with their hands, button their own clothes, hold forks. Even musical instruments are played psychically.
An accident at the seashore brings the animosity between the brothers to a boil. Suddenly, Taemon has no psi at all and Yens' power has grown exponentially. All this happens just as the High Priest has decided to choose the True Son from the ranks of the most gifted young citizens, even though this is against the teachings of the prophet Nathan.
Hmmm, methinks the High Priest is up to something. Taemon and his parents attempt to hide his lack of psi but eventually Taemon is banished and finds a new life and a treasure trove. And then he does something to endanger everyone in the country.
Krumwiede creates a credible world where extrasensory abilities are given way too much power. The heroes in this story may not be the magic wielders after all. What a refreshing change! Someone who is different because of what he can NOT do!
Things move quickly in this book making it accessible to middle grade readers. The concepts of power, greed, egotism, and the tension between using one's talents carefully or wildly - these are all great topics for discussion and exploration.
This book is #1 in a proposed series. Freakling is on sale starting October 9th, 2012.