In One Line: Girl goes to creepy boarding school. Mystery and romance ensue!
Genre: Nearly paranormal guilty pleasure reading, but NOT paranormal!
Allie’s a bad girl, ok? She goes drinking and vandalises her school and dyes her hair red and everything. So her exasperated parents send her to Cimmeria (unsure of correct pronunciation: ‘Kem-aria’? ‘Simm-eria’?), a grand and gothic boarding school in the middle of English nowhere, but possibly in Surrey. Once there Allie makes some friends and attracts the attention of hot public school boys, and she learns a lot about poetry and ball gowns. But Cimmeria has a secret. A secret that you think for most of the book may be werewolves or ghosts or demons, but apparently is NONE OF THESE THINGS. But it does have a lot to do with the super secret Night School, a society that the top students belong to. As bad things start to happen around her, Allie attempts to discover the secret of Night School, and why she might be involved!
Look everyone! It’s definitely Allie because she has dyed red hair and looks troubled. This trouble may be something to do with friends dying, or her brother disappearing, or the fact that she has far too many hot boys pursuing her. My only issue is the pinky finger. At the risk of going all Tyra on you, girl needs to relax. Sometimes it’s a good idea to shake that hand out before posing with it.
Why You’ll Love This Book:
- It’s trashy good fun. We’re not dealing with a literary masterpiece here people, but I’m ok with that. Sometimes you need some good old escapist fun with hot boys thrown in for good measure. This book is about entertaining and giving you a nice boarding school fantasy to ponder.
- BOYS BOYS BOYS. If you’re male, apparently you can only go to Cimmeria if you are hot. There is some serious swooning going on in this book: first we have Sylvain (who is French, but I totally missed the fact that he was French until the last third of the book - oops!) who is big and posh and may nibble on your ear, and then we have Carter West. Go on, just say it. Say it out loud. Carter. West. Possibly the hottest name for a love interest ever. He’ll tell you to trust No One in Cimmeria, but when he says it he is actually implying that you should definitely trust him.
- Midnight skinny dipping!!! To be honest this scene was far too short with not nearly enough descriptions of blatant nudity or implied sexy-times, but still, how often do you get mass nocturnal nudity in teen literature? Let your imagination run rampant.
Why You May Not Love This Book:
- The fatal flaw: Allie. This one point is the main reason I didn’t get on with this book. In chapter one, Allie is completely badass and I was really excited to read about what happened when a bad girl goes to posh school. But the bad girl quickly disappears. And an annoyingly good girl crops up very quickly. For most of the book Allie’s personality takes a back seat to the action and I couldn’t help but think “what would actually happen if a tortured, broken bad girl got sent to boarding school?” Now that would be a good book. As soon as Allie dons the strict uniform and lets the henna fade out of her hair, I just didn’t care about her. She became horribly normal and just like every other main character in every other teen trash-lit. Where is the attitude? Where is the secret punk? I just wanted to shake Allie and say BE SOMEONE. So frustrating was this issue for me, that it pretty much ruined the entire book.
- This is not a book for feminists. In fact it’s abhorrently chauvinistic in places. Boys are described by how strong and tough they are, whereas girls are fragile creatures liable to fall off roofs. There are a number of times when Allie comments on the strong arms of her male suitors and how attractive a quality this is, whereas the girls get lots of pretty dresses to play with. And go unconscious after bumping into things. Stupid girls.
- The lost best friend: Mark? Are you there Mark? Do you actually exist? Or is Allie just fickle?
- The school has no fire alarms!!! For a super posh school for the hyper-rich, this strikes me as being incredibly stupid and ridiculous. But it’s essential for the plot you say? Oh, ok.
- Lack of technology, like mobile phones or laptops. Are you seriously saying that these kids have to type their essays by hand? No wonder they spend so long doing homework. This makes me seriously wonder how they could ever cope in the real world. But it’s essential for the plot you say? Oh, ok.
- There is one more thing that seriously concerned me about this novel, but to talk about it would give away a big spoiler. But it outraged me. Feel free to DM me on twitter to discuss.
The Hypersomnia Test:
Against my better judgement, it passed. Mostly because potential sexy-times always get me going and stop me falling asleep. And there is a lot of boy action in this book. But the potential sexy-times never really amounted to much and I was always unsatisfied.
This may be the perfect book for you, and I gather that lots and lots of people have loved it. But it was not for me. I just couldn’t get past the characterisation flaws and plot holes. Also the boy obsession. Maybe it’s because there is nothing else to do or think about at Cimmeria (unless you are in Night School), but the constant obsessing over the other gender really got to me. And it made me angry. At the end of the day it means I know nothing about Allie, except that she likes obsessing over boys.
I really wanted to like this book, and it does have definite pros that I’m sure will make it a great seller, but I hope that Allie gets to grow up a bit in book two. I want her to have more spunk and independence and return to her tortured teen roots. And maybe not have to rely on getting rescued by the boys. Perhaps she can rescue them?
Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast
I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Fallen by Lauren Kate
To buy Night School click HERE!!!