PURCHASE:Amazon | Book Depository
A private academy. A cult leader. A girl caught in the middle.
After Greer Cannon discovers that shoplifting can be a sport and sex can be a superpower, her parents pack her up and send her off to McCracken Hill-a cloistered academy for troubled teens. At McCracken, Greer chafes under the elaborate systems and self-help lingo of therapeutic education. Then Greer meets Addison Bradley. A handsome, charismatic local, Addison seems almost as devoted to Greer as he is to the 12 steps. When he introduces Greer to his mentor Joshua, she finds herself captivated by the older man's calm wisdom. Finally, Greer feels understood.
But Greer starts to question: Where has Joshua come from? What does he want in return for his guidance? The more she digs, the more his lies are exposed. When Joshua's influence over Addison edges them all closer to danger, Greer decides to confront them both. Suddenly, she finds herself on the outside of Joshua's circle. And swiftly, she discovers it's not safe there.
Just in case anyone is curious, Santa didn’t give this to me (before you call on me saying such a tidbit was unnecessary, keep in mind that I did put it in my wishlist-ish list). I ranted sometime ago that the kindle edition was far too expensive (even more expensive than the frickin’ paperback! The nerve!), but in the end, my yearning to read and devour this book triumphed over my disgust. Sigh. We bookworms are too soft, I tell you. Them companies just know we’ll never be able to hold out.
But no matter. I shall try to convince myself and manipulate my mind to think that the book was expensive because Eireann Corrigan is a damn good writer. With all my heart and soul, I declare her one of the best out there. She doesn’t just know how to write, she also knows how to deliver a story. A writer AND a storyteller. I kid you not when I say such writers are far and few between. With that said, I now proclaim the big, fat, sinful price of $11.89 (which was $12+ a few days before) forgiven. Well, kinda.
I’m still unsure how to talk about my feelings and thoughts of this book. I confess that it took me 2 days to read all of it, which is actually long given how fast I read, but this was the kind of book that you just don’t read mindlessly. It will make you think about a lot of things, and maybe even provoke you to take a break because it can be quite overwhelming. It was a rather roller coaster ride, that I will admit. So what we have here are a bunch of teenagers who’ve had somewhat dysfunctional lives and a middle-aged, charismatic (read: creepy) guy who tries to take advantage of them using spiritual development and character growth as a pretext. If that doesn’t sound like a juicy premise to you, then I don’t know what does.
Where to begin? The writing. I’ve already stated that Eireann Corrigan is an awesome writer, and I still stand by that. I liked how she portrayed the characters, the escalation of events (a.k.a. brainwashing?) and the twists, turns, and tensions that were scattered all throughout the book. Sure, there were some predictable stuff here and there, but the author has written them in such a way that the revelation of such were still “shocking” and maybe a li’l bit “enjoyable”. Prose was delightful to read as well. They were crafted and put together so well that sometimes I’d try to slow down so I can savor them a little while longer. The dialogues didn’t seem forced and they actually felt natural. Okay, some were kinda creepy, but hey, the character saying those stuff was creepy in the first place, so that’s forgiven.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s focus on the characters. I had a love-hate relationship with the main Greer. I loved that she was observant, reflective and had common sense, but damn, her dependency on Addison, to the point of stupidity, was just mindblowingly annoying. She knew things were wrong, she knew the situations didn’t feel right, but she was still willing to act all innocent and naïve and play along with all of it just because she loved her boyfriend and didn’t want to lose him. Girl, get your shit together. I didn’t like how she acted like she had no self-respect because of a brainwashed boy. Geezus, her dependency on him was all over the place 75% of the time and it almost drove me crazy. But then again, that was her character, and she was a troubled teen who was yearning for love and affection and Addison gave her that. I recognized her longing for a sense of security, so I brushed off this pet peeve of mine and tried not to let it cloud my judgement on a good and well-written book. I still like her, and I felt proud in the times she did try to make a stand. I just wish she wasn’t so head-over-heels for a guy.
Joshua… man. He definitely has a way with people – charismatic, charming, seemingly knows what to say even in the most awkward of situations… but he’s creepy. He’s definitely the kind of guy I wouldn’t ever want to hang out with because he just reeks of superficiality and ill intentions. He reminds me of Matthew from The Enemy series by Charlie Higson. His speeches sound so real and so sincere that it’s obvious they’re fake, but at the same time, you end up falling for the traps nonetheless. Imagine The Governor from The Walking Dead TV Show (yeah, ’cause the comic book Governor is way different, haha). He’s exactly like that, except Joshua uses speeches that contain “inspirational thoughts” about “growing”, “becoming a family”, “getting past our problems” and all that in order to take advantage of the poor teenagers. I’m not going to say what he did, because that’s what you (yes, you, who’s reading this review of mine) are going to find out (so get this book now if you’re curious! Mehehe…). He’s the kind of guy who’ll do anything to know you – your weaknesses, most especially – and then exploit them for his own personal gains. Scary, huh? These kind of guys, if you think about it, are scarier than zombies and vampires.
Why I didn’t give this a perfect 5 out of 5 stars was because of the ending. WTF was that ending? Not that it was bad, but it was something that I absolutely didn’t expect, and it left me feeling quite empty. Of course, don’t let this discourage you, because while the end was definitely something that I wouldn’t ever have imagined, it was realistic, and maybe the most feasible and probably situation if such a premise happened in real life.
All in all, it was a good read – fast-paced, thrilling, exciting and maybe even refreshing. It’s not like your ordinary dystopian, post-apocalyptic young adult reads, making them even more real. It’s definitely creepy especially with the fact that there are people like this in real life. Makes you wonder what wretched things are out there in the world. I recommend it to everyone. Well, maybe not for the faint of heart, but don’t be a chicken now. :)
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