The Candidates is a unique twist on a well-trod theme (boarding school for kids with special gifts). I love the X-men feel to it, the levels of powers, the elemental uses. This is a first book in a series, so the pacing is a little slow, but that is not a bad thing. We get to enter into the world, discovering things with Dancia, we get to make our own decisions about characters as they are introduced, and we get to be in suspense learning what is really going on at Delcroix. I loved the characters! Dancia is a wonderful main character, and I was rooting for her all along. She is brave, and loyal- making strange things happen when those she cares about are in danger, or if she feels injustice is being served. She is a very mature 14 year old, and she has an easy to read voice. Her friends, Hennie and Ester are wonderful and funny; just what I would want in my best friends. And, yes there is a love triangle! It is well written and I am torn right along with Dancia for a while. I ended up chosing Jack (make of that what you will.) The book did end with quite a cliffie, so I am eagerly awaiting the next book, but will have to wait a bit.