Monday, January 09, 2012

Night School by C. J. Daugherty


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.

It wasn't until I'd finished this book and read another blogger's review (sorry, I can't remember who it was!) that I realised that I'm also a bit obsessed by boarding school books. I mean, obviously there's my love for Harry Potter but if I look at my shelves and the other books I've enjoyed (like the Hex Hall books, The Dark Elite ones or even Anna and the French Kiss) it appears that it's become a bit of a passion of mine. I just went to a regular day school and also love my home and space so it wouldn't have been something I'd have wanted to experience. So Night School fed my vicarious enjoyment of these mysterious places where I imagine everyone to have heaps of lovely food and able to sneak around at night.

Allie is damaged. Her brother has run away under mysterious circumstances and she has begun lashing out - getting herself into trouble just so she can feel something again. But she's shipped off to Cimmeria Academy as a last resort by her exhausted parents and removed from all her old friends. Once there she discovers that modern life hasn't touched the school; no t.v, phone or Internet is allowed and I loved this about Night School. By demolishing everything we take for granted I was suddenly transported to another world. No one whips out their phone to see if they can email for help or researches on their laptop. The feelings, language and problems that the students face are all very modern however so Night School still reads like a fresh take on the genre.

Allie is brilliant. Obviously there are all sorts of shenanigans afoot and mysteries to be solved that made me flip the pages non-stop. However, for me the attraction was watching Allie grow and change. She's angry when she arrives, using her clothes, hair and makeup to disguise and protect herself. She's constantly on the offensive, suffers panic attacks and obsessively counts her breath or steps. Gradually though she starts to question what she's been doing to get herself to Cimmeria. Trust is another overriding theme of the book and I enjoyed trying to second guess who was on the level and who was responsible for the ever more dangerous attacks at the school. Allie is constantly having to ask herself if she should trust Jo, Rachel, Carter or Sylvian. I lost count of the times I questioned those characters myself!

I really haven't said a great deal about the plot but I found it absorbing. There are plenty of questions left for the sequel but not enough that I didn't find the ending satisfying. I may have to have a new shelf for boarding school books I love too but that's a whole other blog post.


Vivienne said...

I think I might have a thing for boarding schools too! LOL. Such a fabulous book.

Jenni (Juniper's Jungle) said...

I really love the sound of this book. I grew up devouring Enid Blyton's St Clare's and Mallory Towers books and the Chalet School books so I definitely have a love for books set in boarding schools.

Vicki Dickinson said...

I was supposed to be posting this on but decided to take a quick look myself. I might be a bit late posting. And I definitely have a thing for boarding schools, I want to go as much now as I did when i first read Enid Blyton's naughtiest girl books.