Being different can be dangerous, and discovery can be deadly.
High school freshman James Kerr is finding out he’s not quite like his classmates. Around the time he realizes he’s attracted to his best friend, Paul Schmitz, James starts channeling a dead writer’s poetry and also discovers he has an ability to manipulate energy-a super power. Before James can figure out why this is happening to him, tragedy strikes in the form of Paul’s abusive father, and James is sent to a government-run school, The Paragon Academy, which specializes in juvenile paranormal research. There, he meets Lumen, the daughter of a famous Korean actress. Lumen’s psychic ability might be the key to helping James understand both his poems and his own power.
I was in a really bad mood when I picked up a copy of A Little Bit Langston, having had an especially horrendous week of insomnia. But I picked it up anyway, really just out of habit, hoping to kill some time before the end of the day. Before I knew it, I had finished half the book. If you can overcome one of my insomnia induced zombie states, you are an especially engaging author.
A Little Bit Langston is not at all what I expected. It follows a young teen, James Kerr, as he tries to come to terms with a highly strange occurrence. He is assigned to write a poem for class, and unwittingly, he writes a beautiful poem that just happens to resemble the work of the famous poet, Langston Hughes. The mystery is instantly gripping, as James tries to figure out what exactly happened. Is he somehow channeling a long dead, poet? His teacher naturally thinks he plagiarized it, and poor James doesn’t know what to do. His quirky mother finally intervenes and decides to enroll him in a unique school, Paragon Academy, where they work with “special” kids. And that’s where the strangeness intensifies. Now cut off from his mother and friends, James discovers that this school is not what it professes to be, and he must learn to tap his strange power, as well as rely upon some equally gifted teens, to solve the institution’s very odd secret.
Demcak’s strength as a writer comes through in the eminently likable characters he creates. James himself is a beautiful, if confused soul. And I loved his interactions with his new friend, Lumen, a Korean girl already familiar with much of Paragon Academy’s strange secret, due to her own unique ability. And finally James has a love interest in his best friend Paul, who himself gets caught up in Paragon’s bizarre past.
This was a great, quick read, and lots of fun — exactly what I needed during a long hot summer day and a week of insomnia. I enjoyed following James as he first discovers his strange powers, and then learns their true origins. X-files fans will especially enjoy the ride. Those steeped in UFO lore will get a bit more out of this, as Demcak makes references to famous cases throughout. And if nothing else, the book gives you the most poetic euphemism for “gay” that I’ve ever seen, a phrase captured in the book’s beautiful title. I know the author has already penned a sequel to A Little Bit Langston, called Alpha Wave. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it to be published.