The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley #BookReview

Title: The Zanna Function | Author: Daniel Wheatley | Publisher: Jolly Fish Press | Pub. Date: 2018-3-20 | Pages: 304 | ISBN13: 9781631631689 | Genre: Fantasy | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: I received a free copy from Netgalley for review consideration

The Zanna Function

When fourteen-year-old Zanna Mayfield gets an acceptance letter from St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, she jumps at the chance to put her considerable intellect to good use. But nothing can prepare her for the first day, when she discovers that she is a Scientist —one able to see and bend the basic functions of the universe like velocity, gravity, and chemical reactions to her own purposes.

As Zanna struggles to make friends and learn how to use her abilities at her new school, her troubles multiply when a mysterious stranger begins stalking her, dead set on keeping Zanna out of St. Pommeroy’s. If Zanna has any hope of finishing her first year, she’ll need to master every function she can get her mind around—including the one that defines Zanna herself.

Book cover for The Zanna Function

The Zanna Function

You know how a really great book will make you do one of those sighs of satisfaction that start from somewhere near your toes after you’re done? The Zanna Function was one of them for me. Its hard to sort out my thoughts on the book because I don’t think I’ve quite returned to the real world yet. So, bear with me for a somewhat rambling review.

I described this book until about the halfway point as “Harry Potter – but a girl – with science instead of magic”. And, honestly, I feel like that’s a fairly accurate summation of it. And not a bad way to recommend a book at all, in my opinion. Look, I skip around with middle grade stuff. I’ve read Harry Potter, of course, and Percy Jackson. So I know that ‘the special school for gifted/different kids’ is a fairly commonly used thing. I know that for the first part of the book, I was unconsciously comparing the characters in the books to their Harry Potter equivalents. And I also know that I moved past that fairly quickly. Like many books, much of The Zanna Function is familiar. However, a good writer can take the familiar and turn it into a story that still feels engrossing and enjoyable. This is where Daniel Wheatley excels. 

The Zanna Function has a fast pace, solid dialogue, and just enough hints of teen hormones to engage its intended age range. The author spent just enough time on the world-building to give us a watercolor of what St. Pommeroy’s looks like, and it was fascinating. I loved the set-up, the mishmash of buildings and the chaos of ridiculous irons everywhere. It felt like a hidden world that could have been set at any time in the future.

I loved, too, that the characters were the curious, the intelligent. It’s not magical ability per se, but a thirst to take things a step further. To learn and learn and learn some more. (Okay, yeah, there is an element of special ability to it, but still.) That there was a hidden place for children who needed an environment that was meant to push them to their limits. It says something about my opinion of today’s society that a book about a place where kids with special abilities in math, physics, and chemistry need a protected place to learn resonated with me. When common sense feels decidedly uncommon, when people to choose to believe things that we proved wrong centuries ago, it’s hard to maintain hope for the forward progress of humanity. When we know better, when we could do better, and we don’t. Yes, part of me could very easily believe that the people with the thirst for knowledge and the push to know more could face a modern day version of what Giordano Bruno went through.

There are problems, though. Ones that I hope get rectified in later books. Zanna’s friends don’t stand out in any particular way. The author skims scenes that the potential to develop the relationships between the school mates. He also skips through large chunks of time for no apparent reason other than just wanting to move the story along. And, while part of me did appreciate the ending, I have to wonder if most readers are going to get it. Basically, Zanna (and her relationship with her grandfather) is interesting, the world has a good foundation in place with great potential for later, but where some of the story is a finished painting, the other parts are still a rough sketch.

Overall, while I’m willing to admit that The Zanna Function does have it’s issues, I’m still sticking with a 5* rating. Even if the writing was a bit rough, the story itself still swept me away. You’ve got to give this a shot.

Buy Link: Amazon

7 thoughts on “The Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley #BookReview

    1. I just checked on Netgalley – it’s not archived yet, and the publication date isn’t until March 20th, so yes – probably still review copies available!

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