Monday, 13 January 2014

09:18 - No comments

Book Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (V, #1)

Title: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
Author: Joanna Wiebe
Release Date: January 2nd, 2014
Publisher: BenBella Books

Buy the Book: Chapters | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

(I received an advance copy from BenBella Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Unfortunately, a little over halfway through, I stopped reading this book. Even though I didn’t finish reading it, I thought I would write a short review based on what I read and explain why I stopped reading.

When I first picked up The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, I was intrigued by the setting of an exclusive boarding school. I am drawn to books with that kind of environment because in my mind it influences what troubles are going to be set upon the characters, such as the presence of ghosts, the competition for highest grades, the ability of supernatural powers and so on. One of the reasons why I didn’t finish this book is that I didn’t understand what this school was centered on or what it was enforcing. All I really understood was that almost everyone was competing for a scholarship in a way that I had difficulty wrapping my head around.

Basically, all new students are assigned a mentor on their first day at the boarding school. Their new mentor then “looks deep into their soul” just hours after meeting them and produces a skill that they think suits them most. The students must act by the skill they have been assigned and do so with such ferocity that, at the end of the year, whoever embodies it most wins the title of valedictorian and a guaranteed scholarship to the school of his or her choice. In the case of the protagonist, Anne Merchant, the first skill that her mentor comes up with is “seduction”. Then after some arguing on her part, the next thing that her mentor chooses, and what ends up being her skill for the year, is basically “looking deeper into things”. Which, as I kept reading, I realized she embodies as eavesdropping. It is stated at the beginning of the book that she was at the top of her class and was regarded as quite intelligent at her old school. However, this does not seem to be validated at her new school.

I was actually disappointed when I read that part because up to that point I was enjoying it. I thought that some of the characters had intriguing personalities and I really valued that Anne had been trying her hardest to set herself up for a university scholarship. She seems like a smart, interesting, and independent girl. I just thought that this was overruled as the story progressed. Perhaps this changes or is addressed after I stopped reading. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me.

Because I didn't finish The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, I'm not going to give it a final rating.

Is The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant on your to-read list this winter?

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