"With a past too terrible to speak of, and a bleak, lonely future ahead of her, Aerin Renning is shocked to find she has earned a place at the most exclusive school in the universe. Aerin excels at Academy 7 in all but debate, where Dane Madousin - son of one of the most powerful men in the Alliance - consistently outtalks her. Fortunately Aerin consistently outwits him at sparring. They are at the top of their class until Dane jeopardizes everything and Aerin is unintentionally dragged down with him. When the pair is given a joint punishment, an unexpected friendship - and romance - begins to form. But Dane and Aerin both harbor dangerous secrets, and the two are linked in ways neither of them could ever have imagined. . . ."
I'm going to seem like such a jerk here, because I just mocked the use of private schools within young adult novels in my last review, but here I am about to say how much I enjoyed this novel about two teenagers in a private academy.
Interestingly, I came to this novel with no preconceived notions about how good it would be, nor what it would be about. I usually read so many reviews or hear so much about a novel prior to reading it, that I've already settled in my mind whether I'm going to like it or not and how it's going to play out. I'm usually wrong, but I still go into a novel having some information about it. With Academy 7, I literally saw the cover and copy and decided to give it a try.
To me, this book was the story of Aerin and Dane and their friendship. Yes, there are dark secrets that both are hiding, and there are hidden facts they've got to find, and challenges they must overcome, but the heart of the book and the part that made me enjoy it the most and rip through it like some sort of crazy person is the friendship. Aerin and Dane both start the book in (separate) space ships, which I'm sure you probably don't expect from the cover. However, within three chapters, they're in the same school and we quickly get to the meat of the story.
You quickly learn why both students are extraordinary and why they interest each other. This first third to half of the novel is beautiful. It's easy to see why they are interested in each other since I'm interested in both of them. It's fun to see them interact. It's great to see Aerin beat the pants off of Dane in combat. By the time the 'bigger' stuff in the story starts to happen, such as exploring the secrets both characters have, I was fully invested in them and wanted them to achieve their goals.
I'm definitely happy that my whims led me to read this book and I really hope that the author gets to write the sequel that she mentions on her site. Dane and Aerin were two of my favorite young adult characters from this year.
Verdict: 8. It was fun in a pure mind candy type of way, but I enjoyed it and wanted more and looked for more immediately.
Thoughts: Was the publisher trying to hide the fact that this book is set in space and has science fiction overtones to it? The cover, which is gorgeous, certainly does not indicate that the book is going to have space travel nor planet alliances in it. The copy reads as slightly paranormalish to me, but that's because so many young adult novels nowadays are paranormalish. When I opened the first page and got space ship talk, I made a mental sound much like "bwah?" and checked the copy once again. I guess sci fi doesn't sell to teens.
Read an excerpt from the author's site.