In the UK cover design, all there is is a big-faced girl kind of blurred out of focus doing some weird pose with her hand. Other than the red hair, nothing about that cover is cool. Now in my country, we’ve done something a little different. Or A LOT different, and it is so much more awesome! Deliciously enigmatic with all the nighttime stuff going around in the background while an ominous-looking building peers out from the shroud of black and blue. I like that, with the girl heading towards it on the bottom, it looks as if it’s the only light out there, giving the illusion of the possibility of a safe place, when really safe is the last thing it is.
It’s really beautiful, and maybe if I liked this book, I’d have given in and bought it. But, oh, right, I didn’t like this book. I wish I was as impressed with this story as I am with the foliage on the cover.
SUMMARY: Allie's world is falling apart...
She hates her school. Her brother has run away. And she's just been arrested.
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.
WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS:
Allie is a sad, cynical, bitter teenager who makes a mockery of the system every chance she gets, having been arrested a few times in the same year by engaging in rebellion and all that. At last, with her most recent arrest fresh in their minds, her parents have had enough. They’ve had enough of the poor behavior, poor attitude, and lack of respect for the rules; it doesn’t matter that her brother, Christopher, has been missing for a while and that this is really the cause of Allie’s malfunction as a person. So they say, as many parents have done before them—why didn’t my parents ever suggest boarding school, I wonder?—that it is off to Cimmeria Academy for her, where everyone seems to have been attending all their lives and The Rules are suspiciously strict (girlfriend can’t even whip out an iPhone without a serious case of dramalama because The Rules say no computerized technology, and so it makes sense why these kids are so damn crazy).
Little does she know, however, that Cimmeria Academy is not an ordinary boarding school (didn’t you guess?). Everyone is super secretive around her, and though she makes some friends, people are drunkenly falling off buildings and getting attacked by growling "foxes," turning up with their throats slit in the middle of a raging fire, and her headmistress is super hush hush about Allie’s family’s connections, until even the fact that Allie makes a half-insane best friend, two boys are at each other’s throats over her, and she’s actually starting to fit in somewhere, is not enough to mollify Allie. And so the dogged quest for answers begins.
WHERE WE GO:
So the setting of NIGHT SCHOOL by C. J. Daugherty is a boarding school shrouded with mystery. Allie’s never heard of it before, even though it’s obvious that many English rich kids from important families are in attendance. I tried not to roll my eyes at the typical paranormal book setup we’re getting here: girl with an attitude problem ends up on the doorstep of a strange school with even stranger architecture, after which her parents leave her behind and are never heard from again (because what’s a paranormal book without uninvolved parents?). Once she realizes she’s been thrust into a dangerous situation, she receives evasions for her questions, is attacked and manhandled, is fought over by two boys with testosterone issues, and STILL WANTS TO STAY. We recognize this story, yes?
I realize that it looks like I’m in the minority here—what with all these five star ratings on goodreads—but this story is bland and uninventive. Boring. I could’ve ignored that setup I mentioned, because sometimes paranormal book plots don’t stray very far away from each other, but only if that setup had been developed and built upon with interesting layers. Instead the plot meanders to avoid telling us what’s really going on and maybe in an attempt to get me interested enough to care. I didn’t.
WHO WE ARE WITH:
Allie, Allie. Al. Whaddup, girlfriend? What the hell is up? At first, she started out as ordinary in that I’ve read many, many main characters just like her. But as I went along, I noticed that there is a little something special, something distinctly Allie about the way she snarks. I started to see some personality, and though I really think she should’ve phoned somebody for help after about five or six chapters in, I did appreciate that she wasn’t willing to take any answers at face value, which were really just shoddy cover ups, even if they were delivered to her by school officials. She questions things and tries to see straight, even if people would rather block her view and continually try to.
But then there came this point where she began to blend into all those other forgotten MCs I’ve sifted through before. Her one defining trait had to be her humor, which I admit, when paired with Carter West, is diabolically awesome and very good fun. I would continue reading this series, on my own time, if only to read scenes between these two. Not so much because Allie likes to climb onto his lap a lot—which is only hot after the first twenty times and then even my eyes start to spazz—but because they have excellent bantering that is very rarely done well when it comes to YA couples in a paranormal setting. They read as friends who like each other and like kissing as opposed to just a girl and guy getting hot for each other.
However, I kid you not, the rest of the characters are a DISASTER area. One girl starts out as a good friend but later turns into a neglected child off her rocker and on the booze. A boy originally liked by the main character is freakishly on top of her every move, showing up randomly and making creepy romantic suggestions, and when she does fall prey to his charm and whatnot, he attempts to take advantage of her. When Allie confronts him about it, the scene that followed made me *head-desk* hard because it read like: “Oh, what’s that? You didn’t drug me so that my inhibitions were lowered enough to go outside with you where you proceeded to grope me without my consent? You just kept refilling my champagne glass every chance you got, making sure my glass was never empty in the hopes to get into my pants when I could barely slur my own name? Oh, well, all right then. Thanks for the honesty.” Like. WHAT.
So she decides never to forgive him or be alone with him, but she tells no one except her immediate friends, who also do nothing (unless you count Carter's menacing glares *rolls eyes*). The whole thing is totes treated like a nonissue, so that bugged me. IMMENSELY.
THE LITTLE THINGS:
- Carter And Allie Say Funny Things to Each Other... Often
I don’t get where this book was trying to go, but I appreciate the effort. Not really. I’ll read any sequels in my own time and only because I enjoy some of the dialogue, and would maybe enjoy learning answers to stuff. But as far as plot goes, characters (and, eww, the villain is not scary) and setting, this is an unimpressive start to a “paranormal” series.
Hardback / 400 pgs / May 21st 2013 / Katherine Tegen Books / Goodreads / $17.99
I received an e-galley of this book from Harper Collins via Edelweiss.