Author: Anne Applegate
Genre: YA contemporary, thriller, mystery, paranormal, urban fantasy
Publication Date: April 30, 2013 (Scholastic – North America)
Source: NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: What is this prep school preparing them for?
Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam’s new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don’t seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what?
☆: 1/5 stars – just…go back into the oven until you’ve cooked into a better book.
Review: I don’t think I’ve had much look with Point books yet. But, okay, let’s get on with this. At first glance, “The Last Academy” and its blurb sucked me in. Boarding schools? YEAH! Middle school protags? Okay, cool. Weird stuff happening? Yes please. But the blurb is probably the best part of this book, which is the saddest part of all. I wish I could recommend “The Last Academy”, but I just can’t.
Where to start? Even at the ARC point of things, this book really needed at least two more drafts to get really readable. All of the technical areas BADLY needed work – even the dialogue, which is something rare that I find a flaw in. Usually if there’s even just one other technical area that’s somewhat stronger, I can let the dialogue slide just a bit. But here, it just stuck out more – from the first sentence, which should ideally hook the audience, it was awkward and stilted, and just felt like the author was trying to write what a young teenager would say.
Second: the MC. She’s said to be 14, but she sounds at most like a very young 13. The character building for all of the characters up until I DNFd this was nearly non-existent, and they all felt so very 1D it nearly physically hurt. Also, we have her boyfriend talking down to her, and the author actual dumbs down the MC for the audience – which really just broke the camel’s back for me since everything else (non-existent sensory language, shoddy worldbuilding) just wasn’t there.
One of my huge pet peeves within writing is dumbing down characters or ideas for the audience to digest. Seriously, guys, even kids aren’t as simple as you think they are. There’s also writing down to the audience, which occurs here.
While I did like the idea of this plot of vague supernatural mystery, it needed to start getting clearer the further we went through the book. It didn’t. It stayed vague, and thus, really didn’t develop, or help the characters develop in every way.
So, as I said before – needed at least two more drafts before getting to the ARC point of things because this felt more like first draft material. So disappointing, and I had high hopes for this one.
But that’s just how I feel about it. “The Last Academy” is out now from Scholastic in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance. Hopefully it’ll work better for you than it did for me.