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Night School Hardcover – May 21, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Rebellious London teen Allie Sheridan, 16, has just gotten arrested-again. It's the last straw for her parents, and Allie is shipped off to a mysterious boarding school, Cimmeria Academy. The institution caters to a select crowd of children from elite families; the protagonist has no idea why she's been sent to live among them. Nothing is what it seems at this old-fashioned academy and Allie will have to sort through the lies and dangers to discover the truth about the school, her classmates, and her own family. This supernatural thriller covers fairly well-trod ground: teen relationships, love triangles, and secrets. While the author evokes a suspenseful gothic-style tone, the novel fails to have the tight story arc and writing structure needed to maintain the spooky mood. The first in a series, this book serves to set up intrigue and introduce readers to the main cast of characters, but it leaves many questions unanswered. This title will appeal most to fans of Gabriella Poole's Secret Lives (Hodder & Stoughton, 2009) and Richelle Mead's Bloodlines (Razorbill, 2011).-Stephanie Whelan, New York Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Only gutsy first-time novelists would tackle the well-worn “sinister boarding school” trope, complete with a troubled new girl navigating the social scene and various shadowy dangers. After all, where to go with such familiar ingredients? Yet Daugherty knows exactly where she wants to take us, and soon enough, readers will be hooked. The lean prose certainly helps, as does how the plot is punctuated by several unforgettable scenes of suspense, including a skinny-dipping escapade complicated by a panic attack and a rooftop encounter with a bottle of vodka that ends in . . . well, that would be telling. Connecting such episodes is protagonist Allie Sheridan’s efforts to learn why she was admitted to such an elite institution, and about “Night School,” a shadowy training program within it. If initially some students seem stereotypical, keep reading: Daugherty is expert at revealing character through action. Similarly, Allie can appear too reactive, letting others rescue her—but then she notes this tendency, thereby incorporating it into her character arc. Ultimately, both the story and the writing itself are full of surprises. Grades 9-12. --Peter Gutierrez
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This was a superb thriller and a captivating first book in a series that promises to be addicting. The plot wasn't completely unique, with the setting of a private boarding school with the requisite snobby rich kids, the outcasts, and the harsh rumors - but the author made it into something so much more with a depth that had me hooked. The book takes a little while to get going, so it felt a little boring and slow at the beginning. Once the story takes off though - I literally couldn't stop reading. I found myself completely engrossed in the story and I had to find out what was really going on. There are magnificent twists and turns throughout the book - clear up to the ending - which definitely leaves you shaking your head and trying to figure everything out. The characters were interesting and well written. I liked Allie as the main character. She's broken about her brother and doesn't know how to deal with it - so she gets into trouble. You can see that she's upset and guarded, but eventually she lets her walls down and we get a glimpse of who she really is. I'm hoping that her character will continue to grow in the next book, which seems inevitable given how this one ended. Of course there's some romance in the book, even a bit of a love triangle - but I don't think that it interferes or overshadows the main story line. The guys add to the mystery of the school and what's happening, so I found that exciting. The plot was intricately drawn out in a series of mysterious events, thrilling adventures, and serious twists and turns. Up until the end, I was still reeling from everything going on - and the author hits you again with more surprises (which I loved). The ending definitely leaves you begging for more - I can't wait to see what will happen in the next book and how things will go from here. It's an intriguing plot because there's a lot shrouded in mystery - especially about the school and what happens there - but the author expertly avoids giving away too much at a time. I was still trying to figure out what was really up when the answer is revealed - and I didn't see that one coming. I really love thriller and mysteries, especially in young adult fiction. I don't think that there's enough of them out there and this series is definitely a great one to fill that void. I highly recommend this book to fans of YA thrillers and awesome mysteries, as I am already anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
"Carter must think I'm a complete slapper (UK version, 53% on my Nook)."
Think about this. "Slapper" is generally British slang for "slut" now. This line is thought after Allie and Carter talk about how Sylvain (Allie's other love interest) tried to rape her, Allie says it was her fault she nearly got raped, and Carter was content to let her blame herself. After all, he tried to tell her not to trust Sylvain but never gave her any hint as to why. All this and Allie's worry is that Carter will think she's a slut because a guy got her drunk and tried to rape her.
Two books of outrageously offensive bull in a row is bad for me and believe it or not, it gets worse from there. Night School is an overlong book that promotes rape culture and has no idea how not to fall into petty mean girl drama, general girl-hate, cliches, and boarding school shenanigans other books have done so much better.
The Gothic atmosphere Daugherty develops with her words and story is convincing and enchanting. Though spoilers told me ahead of time if it's paranormal or not, there were still moments that made me wonder if it really might be what I thought it was. That "is it or isn't it?" question is the most important thing for any Gothic novel of this type and in that respect, it succeeds. This is all that made reading Night School worth it, sadly.
The characters themselves are flat like cardboard, some so much so that they were literally nothing but names to me. They have no appearances in my mind's eye, they have little use in the novel itself other than to tell Allie stuff or turn against her or die, and Allie is more interested in the idea that a guy is in love with her than people plotting to frame her for someone's murder. Really? Also, for someone as used to being in trouble as Allie is, she adjusts to a new school with very strict rules too quickly for it to work. Her love interests are flat too, but they get their own section once I get to the disgusting stuff because they're both gross beyond belief.
Night School is a bloated novel someone forgot to take the editing scissors to. If this novel were a little better or more original, that might be a problem, but it's not and it's not. Stories about boarding school shenanigans are more than familiar to me; over the years, many of them have crossed my computer screen and done the same cliches Daugherty relies on much better by playing with them, subverting them, and/or challenging them. Using them as unironically as this novel does creates anything but an entertaining experience.
It gets even less entertaining when I remember the stories that did it better were free and some of the authors who wrote them were teenagers.
The novel is also rife with internalized misogyny. Sylvain says Allie is unlike "other girls" and that, my friends, is one of the most commonplace examples of internalized misogyny in our society. I wish I could explain, but Amazon has no images and my explanation came with a really awesome image. Ask Dr. Google.
Katie is the requisite mean girl with acolytes (that exact word is used!), a way of being cartoonishly mean, and the ability to turn one of Allie's friends against her and spread nasty rumors. The three female friends Allie has at the start are disposed of by death or near-death and the one and a half (a friendship with one girl lacks development and counts as half) are once again flat and there to serve specific purposes: one to give us other students' backgrounds, the other to... I can't remember, honestly. She might not have a purpose after all.
The next part is one I've often seen people put in spoilers or not talked about altogether, but it's not a spoiler about anything important and it needs to be talked about openly for a conversation to start about it, just as the larger problems they're part of need to be openly talked about in society if we're supposed to do anything about them.
Sylvain is his own category of awful. At a dance, he gets Allie drunk and tries to rape her. We don't see him for a while after that, but then he turns turns up to apologize--but he calls what he did to her being rough with her, not trying to rape her. That alone proves to me he isn't sorry, but he also admits he did similar things to girls before Allie came along. Regardless, Allie forgives him, he gets back into her good graces, and at the end, we're supposed to feel sorry for him because his feelings for Allie. THIS IS RAPE CULTURE AND IT'S BAD FOR WOMEN. STOP IT. JUST STOP IT.
Carter is only slightly better. Slightly. He's one of those love interests who acts like he hates the lead but is actually crushing on her hardcore or passionately in love with her. Not my favorite trope unless it's done right. What puts him on my bad side is how he tells Allie not to trust Sylvain, gives her no reason why when he's showing no signs of being his true self (next paragraph), and then allows Allie to blame herself after Sylvain tries to rape her. He himself blames her for what happened to her! It's one thing if what you're telling a person not to do without a reason why is touching the stove. It's another when you're trying to stop them from going on a date with a guy you know will try to rape them.
I can't even work up outrage over all this because there's none left right now. This book and the offensive novel that came before it completely drained me. I register offensive content still, but I can't Hulk Smash Night School when it deserves it. Boy, does this novel deserve it.
This book comes out in the US May 21 and thanks to a friend reading that version, I know there have been a few elements changed already. Let's hope the rape culture got toned down and made fifty times less offensive. Best of all would be for it to be removed entirely, but there's not much hope for that. Books like this leave me hopeless.
The story was interesting, and I thought the idea behind the academy was interesting, but it took a little bit too long, in my opinion, for some stronger hints to be dropped about what the big deal was about Night School. I kind of felt that it was kept so secret for so long in the story that by the time we found out what the secret was, it was a little anti-climactic. It was also no big surprise to me what Allie's connection to the school was. So in a way, some secrets were kept too well, and some not well enough.
I still enjoyed the story though, and the writing was compelling. I will be picking up the next book because I'm interested to see where the author takes this series and how things are going to pan out. Bottom line, my favorite things about the book were Allie herself, and Carter. She was smart and had gumption, and Carter was kind of sexy. Obviously, this was a setup book though, so I am eager to see what the author can do for the story in the sequel.
Most recent customer reviews
This book blew me away. I read it in one day because I just couldn’t put it down.
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Allie: I loved the growth I saw in her over the course of this novel.Read more
Night School by C.J. Daugherty
Book One of the Night School series
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books...Read more