Posted in: Karen's Capsule Reviews, KarenS Review, Young Adult books
Tags:Emmaline Andrews, The Academy
The Academy is a book that was recommended to me by somebody (I forget who now) absolutely ages ago. It’s been on my TBR file on my Kindle forever, and one day while I was waiting for something (probably the doctor’s) I decided to give it a go.
Set in the future, The Academy is told from the heroine, Kristina Jameson’s point of view. Kristina has a twin Kristopher, who’s father expects to enroll in an academy for boys, in order for him to get a commission to the space corps. The problem is, Kristopher has no interest in flying his own ship, all he wants to do is study music, something which is unacceptable to their father, who’s keen for them to uphold the family tradition. Kristina on the other hand would love nothing more than to go the academy, she’s the one who excels at astro navigation and inter-dimensional calculus. Unfortunately for Kris, she’s a girl and so her only option is to attend charm school. Something she’s clearly not interested in.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, Kris manages to fool her way into The Royal Academy by pretending that she’s Kristopher. She ends up rooming with an outwardly surly young man called North, and ends up inadvertently making an enemy of one of the main bully boys in the school.
When Kris lands in a dorm room with North, she realises that she may not have thought things through, especially when it came to how to manage her personal hygiene in private. The showers were communal, and the students were restricted in terms of when they could make use of the them. This opportunity to shower was so limited that Kris was unable to shower for a few days, until help came from an unexpected quarter.
This was really a delightful story, and Kris was an engaging heroine. North seemed rude and surly when he first appeared, but gradually him and Kris developed an awkward friendship, that turned into something rather wonderful. Kris was teased because she was smaller than the other boys, so North was instinctively protective of her, obviously having no idea that Kris was in fact a girl. North develops feelings for Kris, and is very confused because he’s always liked girls.
I loved the ebb and flow of the book, it moved along at a fairly brisk pace, and didn’t really have spare moments for my mind to wander off. I think the author handled the confusion of North coming to terms with his sexuality really well, and even though the reader knows that Kris is a girl, there was a moment in the book that North’s feelings for Kris overrode the confusion and shame over his sexuality. There was a really beautiful moment in the book, where North throws off the shackles of his predetermined sexuality, and embraced his new feelings for another ‘boy’. I can’t lie, I may have cheered a little when that happened.
The villain of the piece was a scrote called Broward and he was the absolute worst. I think that he was actually the weakest part of the story because Ms Andrews made him cookie-cutter, “I will murder you in your sleep” bad, and so there were no layers to peel back, he was just an asshole who needed to die. Sometimes readers prefer to have black and white feelings about their villains. I am not one of those readers. All Broward needed was a handle bar mustache to twirl and his cookie-cutter-ness would have been complete.
That was pretty much my only niggle, ok maybe that and the obligatory campy homosexual teacher.
Overall a really solid effort by Ms Andrews, I eagerly await her next YA book.
You can buy The Academy from Amazon.com here. At $.99, it’s definitely worth every penny.