Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

The Basics:

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe
BenBella Books
Book One in the V Trilogy
Young Adult, Paranormal
Published Jan 14, 2014
Source: Received via Goodreads First Reads.

Why I picked up this book:

Girl attending mysterious boarding school for the wealthy, who doesn't seem to fit their usual profile? With a romantic interest? Yes.


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.

My thoughts:

Pretty enjoyable book, overall.

I absolutely loved the concept of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant. It's awesome, and I would love to go back to this world - so I'll be looking for the second book in the series! Wiebe has a great idea here, and for the most part, I loved the worldbuilding.

The cast of characters is fairly deep and because of the nature of the boarding school, some pretty serious thought has been put into all of them, from personalities to histories. This book really shines when it comes to the details. 

I liked Anne, I liked that in the midst of all the crazy that was Cania Christy, she wasn't willing to accept the paranormal explanation without more evidence. I liked that Anne was imperfect and self-conscious, like a teenage girl typically is. The Ben vs Pilot situation wouldn't have been my personal preference, but I really enjoyed how it played out in the end. 

I do think that Anne seemed a little distanced from normal emotions regarding Molly and her own presence at Cania Christy. At some point before she finally pieced things together, I felt like Anne should have probably have been demanding she be permitted to go home. The pressure around the Valedictorian race and the way it caused students to behave alone was enough for me to question why on earth anyone would want to stay at the school!

The pacing of the book was really slow for me at the start, and I found that the longer the mystery at the heart of Cania Christy was dragged out, the more annoyed with the book I became.

I also didn't understand *at all* why no one could be upfront with Anne, especially once it was clear she was piecing things together. It seemed pretty ridiculous for Ben to keep hinting at things, but refuse to spell them out for Anne.

I would like to spend more time seeing what can be done with the reality of Cania Christy, with Anne in the know. There are still some mysteries to resolve, particularly with how the book ends (no spoilers here though!), and I absolutely want to read the next book in the series. 

Bottom line:

Slow start, but the richness of detail in The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant makes it worth the ride. Though there are a few choices I still don't understand,  I definitely want to come back for the next in the trilogy (where hopefully  more explanations will be forthcoming!)

4 stars
For fans of creepy schools, mysteries, YA

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