I was really excited for this novel because I like boarding school stories, or I thought I liked boarding school stories…after DNF-ing The Last Academy by Anne Applegate and then trudging through Night School I think I am going to take a long break from boarding school novels.
Allie, the main character, began the story with such promise. I liked that she had problems and was getting in trouble before being shipped off to Cimmeria Academy. She was taking the fact that her brother disappeared really hard. The problem was as soon as she got to Cimmeria she forgot all her problems and randomly decided to excel at school and care about everything she hasn’t been caring about for the last year. It was like I was introduced to two characters and the first one I liked but the second one I didn’t care about. It was upsetting that Daugherty began the story with an interesting main character and then morphed her in to Mary-Sue.
There was the requisite love triangle in this story. The “sexy” French student, Sylvain, was Allie’s first romantic interest but I kept forgetting things about him. We were constantly reminded that he was hot but I was never told anything that made him feel French to me which bothered me. I’m tried for being told things about a character and then having them never followed up on. The second love interest Allie had was Carter, the lone-wolf, boy from the wrong side of the academy type. He kept telling her Sylvain was dangerous but never gave a reason for his opinion and was generally vague and uninteresting. I never cared who Allie would choose.
(Spoiler: At one point Sylvain tries to date rape kiss/date rape Allie when she’s had too much to drink but Allie only breaks up with him and never reports anything. Later on she decides to be friends with him again. I decided Sylvain wasn’t a good love interest at that point but Allie apparently hasn’t).
I could have forgiven a Mary-Sue main character and even a terrible love triangle had this novel had an interesting plot. Unfortunately, the plot is boring. By 66% in to the story I didn’t really know what was going on and there were tons of questions but no answers, at first all the questions created tension but then it just made the story unnecessarily long. You should not have to keep your readers in the dark to make them continue reading.
Overall, I did not enjoy Night School and the more I think about it critically the more I disliked the story. I have no plans to pick up the sequel even though almost no questions were answered by the end of Night School. I just don’t care about Allie, her family, or Cimmeria.