John Hornor Jacobs is the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including The Twelve-Fingered Boy and The Shibboleth. He lives in Arkansas with his family.
Fifteen-year-old Shreve Cannon has the ability to read people's minds and absorb their memories. It is a dangerous power, one that pushes him to the brink of insanity. In the second installment of the Twelve-Fingered Boy trilogy, Shreve is back in the custody of the state of Arkansas, this time in a mental institution for juvenile delinquents. His friend Jack, the twelve-fingered boy, is held captive by Mr. Quincrux, the strange man who possesses the same telepathic ability as Shreve. Shreve sees Quincrux as a murderer and a demon who gets into people's minds and manipulates their thoughts and memories for evil purposes. Shreve is summoned by Quincrux to join him and Jack on the east coast and put a stop to the contagious wave of insomnia spreading across the country. Quincrux fears the slumbering beast that resides in Maryland, a group of 'impenetrables' who have unknown powers. Quincrux needs Shreve's abilities to harness this unknown power for his own benefit.
This is a book like no other. Shreve, a teenage delinquent who is a thief and a dealer of contraband candy, has an enormous power for which he struggles to find a place. His telepathy eventually causes him to join the Society of Extranaturals, and his journey is all mental, an exploration of the human psyche that turns his entire world upside down. This novel is a superb telling of what it means to be different, existing physically and mentally on the outskirts of society. Jacobs is a master of the supernatural story, leading readers along dark and winding paths containing secrets, evil, and unimaginable power. Told from a male point of view, The Shibboleth will appeal mostly to boys and any reader who loves dark tales of action, adventure, and the supernatural. 5Q 4P J S. --starred, VOYA-- "Journal"
Jacob's The Twelve-Fingered Boy (2012) was exactly what the teens-with-powers subgenre needed: a fullbody beat down that reminded us that having such powers would really, really suck. This hefty sequel follows 16-year-old delinquent Shreve, who can possess people's bodies, as he shifts from juvenile facility to psych ward to, at last, the Society of Extranaturals, a boot camp of sorts for 'post-human' kids run by the highly untrustworthy Mr. Quincrux. Their (supposed) goal: to destroy 'the elder' that is causing a nationwide wave of deadly insomnia. This is a dyed-in-the-wool middle book--filled with training, planning, and sinister omens, its chief achievement is to foment excitement for the finale. And in that it succeeds splendidly, courtesy of new friend and new foes, none of whom exist in either camp comfortably. As before, Shreve's appealing truculence is weighed down by the anguish of sharing the memories of too many damaged people. Jacobs works his ass off here; that's the best way to put it because you can feel the work, in the best of senses, to make each paragraph a battling push-pull of bruising toughness, electric wit, and dazzling metaphysicality. This fits uncomfortably in every box in which you'd try to put it--in other words, it's totally unique. --starred, Booklist-- "Journal"
Sometimes you just gotta break out of juvie to rescue a friend
and save the world.
Book 2 of the Twelve-Fingered Boy Trilogy finds the two boy heroes--Jack and Shreve--trapped and confined. Branded a 'candy' dealer for doling out drugs, Shreve is incarcerated in a juvenile detention center at first, but after he frightens a nurse there, he's sent to a mental hospital, where he's drugged for schizophrenia. What his keepers don't know is that he's not schizophrenic at all. Instead, he's a shibboleth, a being that can read minds and possess the bodies of others. Readers, on the other hand, know that he needs to escape (there are lots of escapes in this sequel) the center and find his BFF Jack, who's stuck with a guy named Quincrux, who could be the most evil shibboleth out there. Jacobs' sequel reads as a series of elongated plot twists that need to move his lead character from one place to the next, usually some kind of prison: Entrapment is key. Shreve's inner dialogue and snappy one-liners ring both true and trenchant: 'In and down I go, into Schneider's brainmeat, into his unconscious, like some psychic cliff diver in a Speedo.' There is plenty more like this, and it'll no doubt be the main motivation for readers of this decent sequel.
Not necessarily groundbreaking but fun. --Kirkus Reviews
While normal people are 'incarcerado'--trapped in their own bodies--likable protagonist Shreve Cannon is not. He is, however, trapped in a psychiatric ward after having a psychotic episode upon being recaptured at the end of this trilogy's first novel. His best friend, Jack, has been taken by their nemesis, Mr. Quincrux. The three possess extraordinary abilities, aka 'the shibboleth.' Jack has the ability to fly, and Shreve is able to enter the minds of others and is capable of traveling over space while never leaving his body. Shreve escapes to try and find his friend and to discover the ominous messages sent to him from a mysterious Entity via 'Riders' who can also hijack others' bodies. The protagonist is an admirable survivor, and his abilities have grown stronger, but he is caught once again. Once in the remote Montana wilderness, he is introduced to the Society of Extraordinaries, who are being kept by Quincrux as part of a government program. Like the X-Men in Marvel Comics, the young people he meets have various powers and are known by fitting code names. Fans of The Twelve-Fingered Boy (Carolrhoda Lab, 2012) will enjoy meeting these new characters and will reconnect with Shreve as he recounts his adventures with acerbic wit. Jacobs's writing is engaging, and the novel contains realistic, mature language. The cliff-hanger ending will leave readers eager to find out Shreve's role in defeating the Entity as it awakens. --School Library Journal-- "Journal"