Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

Monday, January 13, 2014
Why I chose this book:
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley, but my main reason for requesting it was because the summary sounded like it was right up my alley. I love anything slightly paranormal and slightly spooky. Needless to say, I was not disappointed, and I proved that point by reading it in under 24 hours.

Publisher: BenBella Books 
Publish Date: January 14, 2014
Format: Kindle
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Thriller
Buy: B&N || Amazon || Indiebound 
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. (Goodreads)
3 things you should know about this book:

   1. Money breeds power; power breeds evil.
   This is a dark book, for any of you who did not gather that from the summary, but don’t let that daunt you. Even still, this deals with themes like money, power, and chaotic/direct evil intent. In order to get into the elite school, Cania Christy, one has to pay an outrageous amount of money and/or possessions in order to get in. This alone strikes me as such a true and interesting theme in life in general. 

   Money and possessions breed power (hence all the school’s makeup consisting of rich kids), and that power breeds evil, leaving destruction in its wake. I have to give kudos to Wiebe for tackling this theme. It’s a challenging one to pull off, but I feel that her characters are perfectly crafted to carry out these themes, not only that but she makes them human, begging the question: Are all humans capable of such deeds when power is involved?

   2. Faustian theme, anyone?
   The first thing that tipped me off to the Faustian theme was the price the parents had to pay in order to get their kids into Cania, that and the contracts signed in blood. I was thoroughly impressed with this theme as well. I can’t go into extreme depths for fear of giving away the last 40% of the novel, but I will say that her use of literature and literary references throughout this book was impressive. I studied English at university, so of course all the works she referenced and/or included were very nostalgic for me. Even further, she used them with care. It is not like Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series where Clare throws up literary references so consistently that the reader wants to strangle her. It is tastefully placed and only exists because it furthers the plot. Which, in my opinion, is the best way to go about it.

   3. Voice, characters, and cultures.
   The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is written in first person POV present tense. Those of you who follow my reviews know that I detest first person POV alongside present tense, because most of the time it is not executed well. This book is one of only three books/series that has pulled this off. So take notes authors; this is the way to do it! Anne Merchant’s voice is so very clear in Wiebe’s writing. Her inner dialogue is fantastic and realistic. As for the dialogue, there were points that I could tell who was talking even before she referenced them —just by the words they spoke, I could identify the character. That alone screams excellent character development and well executed writing. 

   Piggy-backing off of the characters, I was impressed that she had such a variety of characters hailing from so many different places including: Italy, Thailand, Canada, and Mexico. The only negative thing I have to say (which is very minor, I might add) is that she pulls on stereotypes a little too much when it comes to Harper, who is from Texas. Originally being from Texas myself, I found it slightly annoying how she always added a southern adage to her dialogue. Other than that, I actually didn’t mind Harper’s character as much as I thought I would (since at first I found her the cliche Queen B). Otherwise, I absolutely loved Wiebe’s voice and characters.

   Final Notes:
   Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely! I was already very excited about it, because the summary seemed to remind me of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. And just like Hodkin’s book, I was not disappointed at all by this wonderful debut novel. I read it in less than 24 hours, and I don’t regret a single minute! I full intend to get the second one whenever she decides to release it, and you can count on the fact that I will go buy this book in hardback and add it to my bookshelf. 

I gave this book 4.5 stars on my Goodreads

1 comment:

  1. Your review makes me what to read this book! Sounds very interesting.


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