School for Psychics is the first in an eponymous series about a public-private venture in educating psychics for work in law enforcement and national defense. Teddy Cannon is a college dropout deeply in debt to her bookie and in order to get out from under, she’s stolen money from her parents’ retirement, planning to win big at The Bellagio. By big, I mean a quarter million bucks just to get back to zero. However, she’s confident she can succeed if she can just avoid detection. She’s permanently banned from the Strip because she is an uncanny gambler. They think she cheats. She thinks she’s just good at reading people.

However, her plans go awry, deliberately spiked by the Dean of the School for Psychics who used her dilemma to recruit her to the school. Not having much of a choice and perhaps hoping she can make something of herself, she agrees to attend, and there begins a whole new adventure, making friends, learning skills, and even learning about her birth parents who died in an accident when she was a child.

It’s a funny thing. In television, the pilot is often terrible with people spending far too much time explaining who they are in odd little monologues or awkward, never-gonna-happen dialogue. In books, the first in a series is often the best, rich in character development and without those silly meet-and-catch up gatherings that infect subsequent books. It’s a function of their media. The time from book to book is enough to make writers think we need a refresher or that we want to know what some character not featured in the current book is up to. I mention this because this book reads more like a pilot. There’s a lot of character introduction and somehow I think the next books in the series will be more exciting.

I like Teddy. I think the premise is promising and there are so many great elements for further stories, but this one, rooted in her first year of study was a bit too…studious, I guess. Archer makes the mistake of thinking there is some need to root the paranormal in science, so there’s quantum physics used to explain Neo and the bullets in The Matrix and neural-imaging and biology to explain psychic phenomenon. This is the stuff she is learning in class. I guess it’s my thinking that if you are going to gift characters with paranormal powers, then just do it. Maybe a sentence or two on origins, not long explanations of how this is scientifically feasible, especially when those particular explanations are questionable science.

Hopefully, her classes in her sophomore year will be more about her powers and less about trying to pretend this isn’t fantasy.

I received an e-galley of School for Psychics from the publisher through NetGalley.

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