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Do You Hear What I HEAR?

Join a group of gifted young adults as they investigate “anomalies” (i.e., psychic abilities) and teenage feelings in Robin Epstein’s HEAR.

Do You Hear What I HEAR?

BOOK REPORT for HEAR by Robin Epstein

Cover Story: The War Against Christmas
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: In Her Head
Bonus Factor: ESP Labs
Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger
Relationship Status: Thanks For The Appetizers

Cover Story: The War Against Christmas

The tagline—“Some gifts should never be opened”—plus the frozen-looking girl taking up much of the cover—hello, frozen Big Face—has me thinking this book is going to be about a dead body someone finds in the forest that doesn’t stay dead.

(It’s not.)

The Deal:

Kass Black has always been a bit special. When she got tired of people in her high school being horrible to each other, she took it into her own, anonymous vigilante hands, to right wrongs. But it’s not until she’s expelled for her actions, and ends up at a summer program led by her great-uncle Brian, that she realizes that her specialness is thanks to extrasensory perception (ESP) … and she’s not alone.

BFF Charm: Meh

Although it’s very cool that Kass has mind powers, they don’t exactly make her personality all that much more awesome. I’m sure she can be a fun girl, but nothing—even the ESP—made her stand out as someone I’d want to hang out with on a regular basis. Plus, she judges everyone, all the time. Knowing that fact would make me really paranoid if we were ever to hang out.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

When Kass first meets another member of her uncle’s program, he’s a total jerk. Eventually, the two are forced into a situation that leads to something more (and something more pleasant), but never did I get the feeling that the emotions that they were supposedly experiencing were deep-seated or anything more than a plot device.

Talky Talk: In Her Head

HEAR is a book about young men and women with special psychic abilities, so it makes sense that it would be written from the perspective of Kass. Through her eyes/thoughts, we learn about Brian’s program (the Henley Engineering Anomalies Research program, or HEAR), the other program participants, and the conspiracies beneath the surface of the program. Unfortunately, because of this perspective, the reveals of plot points and the explanations for anything that happens in the story are lacking, the “science,” specifically so. For example, when two characters begin hearing each other’s thoughts in their heads, the excuse is heightened emotions. I suppose that makes sense?

The idea at the heart of HEAR is interesting, but Robin Epstein needs to work on fleshing out the details of both the characters and the plot to make a truly engaging read.

Bonus Factor: ESP Labs

Although the HEAR program is made-up, according to Epstein’s author note in the beginning of the book, there are similar, real programs at a few U.S. colleges, including ones at Princeton, Stanford, and Duke. I love that the study of psychic abilities is an actual science, regardless of the fact that people likely look down on it as a pseudo one.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cliffhanger

As far as I can tell from looking at Goodreads and performing a cursory Internet browse, HEAR is a standalone novel. However, HEAR’s ending leads me to believe that there’s plenty more Epstein wants to tell, and she certainly leaves readers hanging with the resolution of many of the plot lines in the book.

Casting Call:

Stella Hudgens as Kass

Relationship Status: Thanks For The Appetizers

I was excited to meet up when I first read your blurb, Book, but feel a little let down by the quality of your company the way the meal didn’t fill me up at all. I went home hungry, and to be very honest, a little confused as to how the stories you told me connected. But you weren’t the worst date I’ve ever had, so that’s something.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Soho Teen, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. HEAR is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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