________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013


The Hypnotists. (The Hypnotists, Bk.1).

Gordon Korman.
New York, NY., Scholastic Press (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2013.
232 pp., hardcover & EBK, $18.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-545-50322-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-545-50327-3 (EBK).

Subject Headings:
Conspiracies-Juvenile fiction.
New York (N.Y.)-Juvenile fiction.
Paranormal fiction-Juvenile fiction.

Grade 4-7 / Ages 9-12

Review by Kerri Hutchinson.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Dr. Mako nodded sympathetically. “I can see why you call it a curse, but it’s not, you know. It’s a glorious gift. And at Sentia, we believe it will have a profound effect on the future. Your son is going to be a part of all that.”

“It’s a little bit scary,” Mrs. Opus put in, “but it’s also really exciting when you think about it.”

“Will you join us, Jackson?” Dr. Mako invited. “Will you become one of my hypnos?”

“What do I do?” Jax asked. “I mean, you say I’m this big hypnotist, but I don’t know how to hypnotize anybody.”

“We’ll teach you,” the director promised. “We’ll nurture and develop your gift in every way. And together we’ll change the world.”


The Hypnotists is the most recent novel by the prolific juvenile fiction author Gordon Korman. Twelve-year-old Jackson “Jax” Opus is a regular kid. He lives in New York City, plays basketball, and passes his free time with his best friend Tommy Cicerelli. But unlike other kids, Jax has an unknown secret power – he’s a hypnotist. While on a class trip, Jax unknowingly hypnotizes a professional hypnotist which grabs the attention of the Sentia Institute. The Sentia Institute, a hypnotist school in New York City, is operated by the powerful Dr. Elias Mako who is constantly searching for the next, best hypnotist. Jax agrees to attend Sentia after school, but once he starts at Sentia, it becomes clear to Dr. Mako that Jax is not a regular hypnotist. Jax is a descendent from two of the most prominent hypnotist families in history, the Opuses and the Sparkses, which has granted him a natural gift for hypnotism like no others before him. While Jax enjoys studying at Sentia, he learns that Dr. Mako is not as he appears and that his motivations for harnessing Jax’s powers are much more insidious than we could ever imagine. The book culminates in a battle between the Mako and Jax, with the help of other hypnotists.

     The story is narrated in third person, and Korman does a good job of integrating elements of humor, fantasy, and adventure. Korman was smart to make Jax’s superpower hypnotism because there is a level of familiarity with hypnotism that allows Jax’s story to take place in a realistic world. By writing about hypnotism, Korman’s able to create a fantastical realm while maintaining realism and ground his story in a modern city without the story feeling overdone or unbelievable.

      Furthermore, Korman does an excellent job of leaving the story open-ended allowing for the development of a longer series story arc between Dr. Mako and Jax. The pacing is strong, keeping the reader captivated as Jax starts to realize the severity of Dr. Mako’s corruption, but overall the character development is lacking. Jax’s talents and family backstory are interesting but are handled with brevity. Greater detail would have added more interest and complexities to the story. The other shortfall of the book is the topical (and not so topical) references, including Justin Beiber and Bill Gates. These references will date the novel as we move further away from our current time period. Without these references, the novel would have greater potential longevity for future generations.

      The Hypnotists is a successful blend of fantasy, comedy, and realism that will appeal to Korman’s existing fans as well as fans of the genres, and readers will be eager to find out what happens next to Jax Opus.


Kerri Hutchinson lives in Waterloo, ON, and is a Branch Librarian for North Perth Public Library in Atwood, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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