Mindscape: The Ability, Book 2



Telepathic 12-year-olds return in exciting sequel.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Mindscape is a fantasy adventure with little academic content, but it highly values learning, both in the studies the kids are pursuing during their year at the Academy and in their work to come.

Positive messages

Forgiveness, redemption, friendship, and loyalty are major themes. 

Positive role models

Chris has a lot of adversity to deal with, from his dysfunctional home life to the fact that someone wants to kill him, and it doesn't help that nobody believes him when he sees his pursuer. Despite this, he always tries to do the right thing and willingly puts himself in danger to help his loved ones. Adult protectors Ron and John give him plenty of good advice and protect him and the other kids. Chris and his friends are sometimes on the outs here, but they come through for one another when it counts, often in unexpected ways. (One of his quests requires Chris to sneak into a heavy metal concert without a ticket, a practice parents may want to note and discourage in real life.)


Several characters are in danger of violent death. Protagonist Chris spends most of the book dodging the mind control and murderous revenge of Ernest Genever, whose brother was killed by Chris in Book 1. Although the intent is sometimes benign and sometimes evil, exploring people's minds without their consent is at the story's core and occurs frequently. As the book begins, Chris uses telekinetic powers against a bully. Later he finds himself tossed around in the air at a heavy metal concert. One character's mind is wiped blank by another's mind-invasive techniques.


The villain bribes a man to distract one of the kids' teachers by pretending to be in love with her; the flirtation includes hand-kissing and mention of kisses and foot massages. An attraction is quietly growing between Chris and classmate Daisy, his most consistently reliable friend.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mindscape, the sequel to The Abilitybrings more thrills, suspense, danger -- and surprises -- as 12-year-old protagonist Chris Lane and his classmates continue to cultivate their ability to explore and manipulate other people's minds. Some parts of the story may be too scary or intense for younger readers: Chris' mother is constantly depressed because his father was killed in the war; Chris is haunted by guilt over the death of a boy he was forced to kill to protect others, and the boy's brother is bent on avenging his twin's death. A villain kidnaps people and tries to kill them. The ethical and emotional implications of mind control -- and specifically the ability to erase unwanted memories -- are important themes. One of the adult characters gets a comic transformation when the villain bribes a man to pretend he's in love with her. 

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Chris Lane can't wait to get back to Myers-Holt Academy, where he and his classmates, in the last months of their stay, are perfecting their various mind-reading and mind-over-matter skills as part of a secret government project. After the events of Book 1, they're mostly putting their talents to work solving relatively mundane problems, such as art heists. But Ernest Genever, whose twin brother was killed by Chris in The Ability, has vowed revenge, and Chris sees him everywhere. The trouble is, all his friends and teachers think he's hallucinating.

Is it any good?


MINDSCAPE offers engaging characters and heartwarming moments along with scary scenes and quite a few surprises. Although it takes a bit longer than The Ability to get going and probably spends a bit too much time dwelling on Chris' internal confusion (maybe he really IS imagining it all? Wouldn't his friends believe him if they were really his friends?), it includes a cliffhanger ending that potentially changes everything.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why stories about mind reading and mind control are so popular. What's the appeal?

  • If you could read people's minds without their knowing about it, would you? What about their email?

  • Would you like to go to a school like Myers-Holt? What would you want to study if you went there?

Book details

Author:M.M. Vaughan
Illustrator:Iacopo Bruno
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date:March 11, 2014
Number of pages:320
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Mindscape: The Ability, Book 2 was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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