Saban is a dork on a mission. Well, dork is probably too strong a word. "Socially challenged" is a gentler way to put it. Saban is the protagonist in Dante Amodeo's Saban and the Ancient, and even though you find out pretty early that he's not an ordinary teenager, you still don't find out just how special he is until much later on.
Saban and the Ancient is the first book in Amodeo's Transformation series. It is aimed at young adults but should be enjoyable by everyone. It's full of slowly revealed mysteries that lead to other mysteries, paramilitary action, martial arts, and mutant super powers. The action starts quickly after we find Saban, a 19-year old college student, and his study partner Margo in the middle of an apparent military strike against the school. The action that follows shows that Margo is also unusually capable. More is revealed later, but not all.
The book is a progression of mysteries. As you find out more about the characters and their histories, more questions are introduced. The answers to those questions reveal more mysteries. You slowly start seeing the edges of a large conspiracy, then get a feeling of multiple conspiracies plotting against each other. Parts of Saban's past, present, and information about the organization he belongs to, the Ancient, are parceled out piece by piece, giving a good sense of discovery. Questions are raised about Margo, who is more than she seems to be. Nobody has a complete picture of the situation, but everybody seems to have a part of it.
Other people involved in Saban's life are introduced and fleshed out, many of whom have their own special abilities. Amodeo has chosen to give many of the characters code names in addition to their real names, a tactic that could have been confusing. He does a good job of helping the reader keep track of which character belongs to which code name, however.
Lots of pop references and quotes riddle the book. Some I found genuinely funny — "An accent that thick was normally peppered with the words 'moose and squirrel'" made me laugh out loud. Some fell flat — "Your mother waz a kangaroo and your fath-air smelt of elderberries" sounded just wrong to me, even knowing it was changed to refer one of the characters' abilities. Everyone will recognize at least some of the references, and most people will get a chuckle or two from them.