Saturday, October 5, 2013

eBook Review: The Academy

The Academy

Where things are not always as they seem…

My name is Kris Jameson and I’m a student at the Royal Academy. I’m at the top of all my classes, what they call a “model student.” There’s only one problem—the Academy is an all boys school and I’m a girl.

It started as a prank when I took my brother’s place. But things got complicated when I caught Broward, the school bully, in a compromising position. They got even worse when I was assigned my roommate—the handsome but enigmatic North who saved me several times from the bully’s attacks.

Now the consequences of my deception are coming back to haunt me. The penalty for fraud at this exclusive school is much worse than simple expulsion—I could lose a hand. Worse, so could my beloved brother.

With so much at stake, it’s imperative that I keep my secret safe. And the person I’m closest to, North, is the one I have to be most wary of.

The trouble is, I think I’m falling in love with him…

Welcome to a hard review for me. THE ACADEMY is basically a futuristic version of TWELFTH NIGHT (or for the non-Shakespearean fans, SHE'S THE MAN starring Amanda Bynes, which I love to pieces don't you say anything bad about it). The thing is that aside from some cool tech mentions and scifi trappings Andrews made Kris(tina), our main character, come from a province that adheres to Victorian principles. They're even referred to that way. Modesty, chastity, women can't do cool things like fly a ship, women are the property of their fathers/husbands, etc etc.

This felt a bit like a cop out to me. I can see why Andrews would go this route--it set groundwork as to why Kristina and her brother Kristopher would trade places, why they would risk so much, why they felt there was no other viable option. Later when Kris(tina) is in the Academy it gave her an easy excuse as to why she didn't want to undress in front of guys or take showers with them or spoke so formally.

Kris's roommate (and love interest) North comes up with half a dozen different reasons (reasonable and otherwise) why Kris would be so reluctant to behave like the other guys. All of which she insists, repeatedly, aren't true. I feel like one of those options would have been preferable to simply reading over and over again that she was embarrassed and modest.

There's also the matter of how same-sex relationships are handled in the book. Its an all boys' school with a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality. A couple characters are clear on gay; Wilkinson, Kris' only friend (more or less), and 'Kinky' Hinks, assistant to the Headmaster. Both come off initially as being predatory, but later actions prove them to be otherwise. Still a bit too stereotypical for me though.

As is common in these stories the love interest finds himself reluctantly falling in love with our hero(ine) and wrestling with the fact this previously Manly Man is into...well guys (or a guy at least). No one knows of Kris' ruse, and there aren't any women to try to wrestle North away from her so instead we're dealing with North's past. Its a hard past and one that Andrews handles carefully. I did rather find (start spoiler)
the entire subplot of being "sworn brothers" to be the most far-fetched thing ever created and it did not make me think well of Kris' intelligence that she was THAT gullible. (end spoiler) but it was kind of sweet.

The world-building is too shallow for me to feel the urgency that Kris seems to feel and I'm a bit put out that my favorite character (Wilkinson) just kind of...disappears without so much as a mention at the end (start spoiler)I kept hoping that he either figured out that Kris was a girl or Kris told him, but ah well. (end spoiler). It sounds like I'm hating on this book, but I did enjoy it as a quick, light read.

And while I can understand Andrews worked herself into a corner in regards as to what to do with Kris the ending is kind of a Deus Ex Machina Hammer. (start spoiler)north dresses up like some sort of creeper to convince Kris's father to marry them, since North knew that Kris' father's prejudice and hatred of his daughter would have him marry her off to only a creeper, then on the ship they fly away into the stars to live happily as Captain and Navigator. I kept waiting for Wilkinson to pop up so this could really be the Ship of Misfits, but that didn't happen (end spoiler).