The Essentialz


Young Adult - Fantasy - Urban
300 Pages
Reviewed on 08/26/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

The Essentialz by Paul Cicchini throws the spotlight on four groups of teenagers living in four different parts of America; Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, and North Dakota, and who are gifted with some great superpowers. These groups, Gliders from New Jersey, Diggers from Nevada, Surfers from Florida, and Bunsens from North Dakota, are unaware of the existence of each other and are insanely clever and talented. Angela, Marco, and Rockwell (Nevada), Gabrielle, Flynn, and Sarah (New Jersey), Connors, Hudson, and Lark (Florida), and Blaise, Kiara, and Max (North Dakota) take readers on a fascinating adventure where they finally realize there are others like them who possess superpowers and with whom they can join hands to save the planet from destruction. Will these teens meet each other and if they do, how does it happen? Do they respect each others' powers, and will they be able to work together with respect and trust to deal with the impending doom that looms ahead? ISIS? Russia? China? What is it or is it something bigger than all this?

The Essentialz by Paul Cicchini is compelling and the author very deftly weaves the four groups into the plot without sounding forced. There is a lot of drama and action that adds to the urgency in the plot and keeps readers glued to the story. The author does an excellent job portraying the characters and the gifts of each group and there is not one boring moment in the story as the teenagers channel their superpowers and work toward a common cause. The narration is detailed and descriptive, making the story vivid and palpable to readers. The various layers and dimensions in the plot are fascinating and they give it a good pace and movement. It is interesting to see the characters developing their powers, practicing them, and learning how to control them.

Susan Sewell

After separate alien encounters, a dozen teens are gifted with extraordinary capabilities that rival comic book heroes in the exciting science-fiction novel, The Essentialz by Paul Cicchini. While spelunking in Nevada, Angela, Marco, and Rockwell are caught in an explosion of orange light that alters their DNA, giving Angela the power to manipulate matter, Rocky can morph into stone, and Marco can energize stones. At the same time in Florida, New Jersey, and North Dakota, three other groups of teens are affected similarly. While skydiving, Flynn, Gabrielle, and Sarah encounter a UFO, leaving them with varying aspects of flight. Conducting a Tesla experiment, Blaise, Max, and Kiara are assaulted by an electrical being, leaving Max with the ability to time travel, Blaise a conduit of electricity, and Kiara a fiery inferno. While scuba diving, Hudson, Lark, and Connor are overcome by a burst of green light, enhancing them with the abilities to shapeshift into and communicate with sea creatures, and transform into water and control the movement of it. When all twelve mutated teenagers meet for the first time, sparks and fur fly. However, a powerful man is attempting to dominate the nation and it will require all of them working together to stop him. Can they set aside their differences and work together against a common enemy?

The Essentialz by Paul Cicchini is an electrifying science-fiction novel with exceptional and unconventional adolescent heroes. Containing action-packed scenes, a deadly conflict, and a formidable villain, it is a spellbinding story with panache. From the beginning, I was reminded of Stan Lee's Marvel Comics heroes, the Fantastic Four, and how each of the characters is an embodiment of one of the four basic elements of earth, air, fire, and water. I was also favorably impressed with the addition of current social issues confronting the protagonists and appreciated how these concerns were reasonably and ethically addressed. Although it has a complex plot and several points of view, Mr. Cicchini has skillfully coalesced these aspects of the story into an elegant and powerful novel. It is a thrilling fantasy adventure that will delight graphic novel and comic book fans who enjoy teenage heroes triumphing over evil villains trying to take over the world.

Liz Konkel

The Essentialz by Paul Cicchini finds four groups of teenagers drawn together when each finds themselves in a bizarre accident that leaves them with extraordinary abilities. The only similarity between the groups of teenagers is their passion for extreme sports and high intelligence. In Nevada, Angela, Marco, and Rockwell are venturing deep within a tunnel when they're suddenly trapped in a cave-in of lava. In Florida, Lark and her friends Hudson and Connor are diving and thought their biggest worry would be blacktip sharks when sudden light spears through them. In North Dakota, Kiara, Blaise, and Max have teamed together on a project when an unusual event of plasma leads to a shocking discovery. In New Jersey, Sarah, Gabby, and Flynn are out skydiving when a gust of wind knocks into them. As each discovers newfound powers, their lives begin to interconnect as they work together to understand their abilities and the events that lead them to become the Essentialz.

Paul Cicchini weaves through multiple perspectives of the teenagers as they go from the thrill of extreme sports and exploration to the thrill of discovering these amazing abilities. Their interest in these sports puts them directly into the strange phenomena that gift them with unique and unusual abilities based upon the events. Each of the teenagers become super-powered heroes with their thrill-seeking personalities at the root of their journey while the world stays grounded in the struggles, guilt, prejudice, and daily experiences they face. Each gets a thrill from their new superpowers and learns to master a variety of elemental-based abilities which include dematerializing into the plasma stream, becoming flames, and turning into water. The tone of the story is akin to a superhero epic with an action-packed plot and a coming of age journey woven throughout their rise to heroes. The Essentialz is a superhero epic with thrilling action moments, set against the world of extreme sports which shows you a variety of teenagers from different backgrounds sharing this passion.