Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: Night School

Night School (Night School #1)
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 21, 2013 (Previously Published in the UK)
Page Count: 400
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Mystery/Thriller

This book was nothing like I expected. Based on the title and cover, I was expecting some sort of paranormal story. Sadly, there isn't a vampire, werewolf, or other supernatural being in sight. This is a straight up mystery with some thriller components. That doesn't make this a bad story, but it is misleading. The summary is vague (which after reading the book makes sense) and provides no clues as to what is happening at Cimmeria School. Others on Goodreads have this novel shelved as a vampire book. Trust me, there are no fanged ones.

So what is this novel really about if there is no paranormal connection? It's the story of Allie Sheridan, a troubled London youth, who is sent off to boarding school in the English countryside. I couldn't help reminiscing about Hogwarts and wondering if the two schools would have anything in common. That train of thought was quickly derailed and Cimmeria took on a life of its own. I love boarding school settings and this one added a dark, creepy layer that was immensely satisfying. The school is almost a character itself and the architecture plays a significant role throughout the story. Physical aspects aside, I also loved the culture and lore of the school. This element was one of the strengths of this novel.

An additional strength was Carter West. I adored him! I can't really say too much about him or his role in the novel without spoiling something, but he is certainly someone you should get to know. Many of the other characters, including Allie, drove me batty with their silly decisions and personalities, but Carter I loved from minute one.

The pacing of this one was a bit difficult for me. There are chapters upon chapters explaining the school's history and all of the characters. There is a lot of secrecy swirling throughout the school grounds. The entire notion of Night School is intriguing, but you have to read the majority of the novel before you find out what's up with that. The informational chapters were necessary to introduce this world to readers, but left me feeling bored and restless. I constantly found myself daydreaming or putting this book aside in favor of other activities. It's never a good sign when I would rather do something else than read. In spite of the slow, methodical pace that dominated a majority of the pages, there are bursts of action that broke up the monotony. It was these moments that changed my opinion of Allie and allowed this story to shine.

My biggest complaint about this novel is with Allie. She has tremendous emotional baggage and a criminal record when she arrives at Cimmeria. She's obviously a troubled young woman seeking answers; this is not something that is easy to get over. Yet, Allie seems to push these feelings aside almost over night. She begins to make friends and throw herself into her school work. She stops thinking about her brother and stops getting into major trouble. It didn't seem realistic to me that she could make such a drastic change in such a short period of time.

All in all, I ended up enjoying this novel, but it took a lot of effort. I had to force myself through the slow moments to be rewarded with the action. I also had no idea what Night School was all about until the big reveal later in the novel. I still have so many questions about it, but since this is the beginning of a series, I am sure those will be answered in the future. I'd recommend this novel to people who enjoy mysteries or boarding school settings. I also think this novel would be a great one to curl up with in the winter time because of it's dark nature.


One Last Gripe: There is a bit of a love triangle. I'm kind of over that element in YA.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The setting

First Sentence: "Hurry up!"

Favorite Character: Carter

Least Favorite Character: Jo



Allie's world is falling apart...

She hates her school. Her brother has run away. And she's just been arrested.

Again.

Now her parents are sending her away to a boarding school where she doesn't know a soul.

But instead of hating her new school, Allie finds she's happy there. She's making friends. And then there's Sylvain, a suave French student who openly flirts with her. And Carter, the brooding loner who seems to have her back.

Soon, though, Allie discovers Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Nothing there is as it seems. And her new friends are hiding dangerous secrets.


5 comments:

  1. Love triangles... how often do they really actually happen in real life anyway?! Because they happen in EVERY YA book right now. I could use me a little love triangle... ;)

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    Replies
    1. This one isn't a drawn out love triangle if that makes sense. The girl makes a definite choice, but the rejected one still pines for her. I liked that it wasn't Bella all over again - I wasn't anxious about who she would pick.

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  2. Well, Andrea, this does sound like a paranormal story.But it isn't? And I don't know if I am disappointed that it isn't or not.
    Anyway, I am really over love triangles, i am tired to the bone by them
    Anyway, great review
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had known it wasn't paranormal. I spent so much energy trying to piece together that aspect that I couldn't focus my energy on this being a mystery.

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