Pages: 456 pages, ARC
Series?: Yes, this is book one
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): Sometimes school is murder.
Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested.
This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.
But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.
When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.
*SPOILER ALERT: This review does NOT contain spoilers about Night School but it does contain a couple of BIG ones about the end of the Hunger Games trilogy, so if you haven't read Mockingjay yet turn back!!!*
My review: Night School is the first in a new YA series, by debut author C. J. Daugherty. It contains all the basic ingredients integral to a successful young adult series; an exciting plot, explosive writing and, most importantly, pretty boys. Yes, yes, story and writing are important but we all know it's the love story that really seals the deal. Oh, and a love triangle never seems to go amiss, does it? Well, Night School has one of those two.
Personally, I hate love triangles. I probably enjoyed the first twenty I came across in YA novels but, really, right now I'll just be excited if I find a YA book that doesn't have one in it. That said, the love story in Night School was well written and I liked the slow burning nature of it, rather than the freaky deaky 'I only met you yesterday but we're in love' ridiculousness that's prevalent in so many books at the moment. Although there is a love story in Night School it's much more Hunger Games style - true, there may be a love rival in the mix but, really, he doesn't stand a chance. It's the same in Night School, at least it was for me anyway.
Night School has a bit of a timeless feel to it, which I think is helped by the boarding school setting. The girls sitting up late at night in the boarding houses did have a certain Enid Blyton feel to it, only with added murder and make out sessions - brilliant, right? I like the history of Cimmeria, which was woven deftly into the plot and Daugherty did a great job with bringing the school to life.
Further down in this post I've noted that you'll probably enjoy Night School if you liked Fallen by Lauren Kate, which I think is fairly similar in terms of style and tone. The subject matter is different (Night School is a contemporary, rather than paranormal romance - yay) but I still think it's a safe bet that if you like one you'll like the other. Luce (of Fallen fame) and Allie did have some similarities; they're both rebels who are newcomers at a mysterious school, they both become the centre of intrigue and gossip via the other students and they both quickly become embroiled in strange circumstances they don't fully understand. Plus, they're both caught in a rivalry between two guys, both of whom they're attracted to.
...Which brings me nicely onto the two male leads in Night School. I do think that if a writer is going to write a love triangle than it's important to make both contenders fairly equal - this is one of the things that annoyed me about the Hunger Games series (one of the only things, as I did love it); why was the love triangle so forced when it was always all about Peeta? It's the same in Night School, one character stands out from the beginning and isn't a massive douche, one character is a massive gropey douche, so, yeah. Ladies of Cimmeria, keep your pepper spray close at hand, that's all I'm saying.
Allie herself was an interesting character and I'm looking forward to getting to know her a little better in the second book in the series. I think it's always difficult to fully get to know a character in the first installment as so much emphasis is put on plot but we did see a few snippets of Allie's personality that I think will be great as the story develops.
Another reason I think I found it quite hard to bond with Allie is because Night School is written in third person. I've been reading so many books in first person lately that it did jar a little with me, especially because Night School is such a fast paced novel, full of twists and turns. I think if this had been written in first person it would have given the pace more immediacy, which would have complemented the nature of the plot brilliantly.
My grumbles about Gropey Male Character and point of view aside, Night School has a great premise and is a strong opener to a series that I'm sure is going to be huge. It's great to welcome more debut authors who write contemporary into the market so I'd like to say a big massive welcome to C. J. Daugherty (who is lovely, by the way); I look forward to seeing what she does next!
First line: "Hurry up!"
Read if you liked…: Fallen - Lauren Kate
Total: 14/20 (B)