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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

meet...'that girl...the weird mortician's daughter,' aka, 'Death Chick'...

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe  

meet...'that girl...the weird mortician's daughter,' aka, 'Death Chick'...

...'or [maybe it's ] Wednesday Addams!' ___________ 3 1/2 stars

OK this is a seriously weird novel. It's taken the genre of the paranormal and high school students / YA Horror, to a whole new level. In fact it took me a couple of days to get into it.

Once I did, I found it hard to put down, disquieting as it was.
Anne Merchant has been sent to an elite school, Cania Christy Preparatory Academy to recover from her mother's death.
Parents come from all around the world begging for their child to attend Cania Christy.
They pay huge prices for the privilege.       
Indeed, Anne cannot help but wonder how her father can afford to send her here.
Students are totally dedicated to be winning the coveted goal of being Valedictorian, known as the Big V prize. To Anne it's all crazy! Capital C Crazy!
The route to the top is vicious. The school rules are incredibly strict, including no mixing with the villagers.
Parents may only visit once a year. No phone contact without a guardian monitoring the call. There's no internet, no mobiles and no computers!
All students have a guardian to foster and mentor them in the Big V Race. Anne's guardian,  Teddy, is particularly obnoxious.
However things aren't even quite this simple. I for one wish they had been.
Wiebe's writing, the twists and turns, the pace of the novel are all excellent. The premise of the novel is indeed creepy. Despite all this, I actually did not like the story that much.
The awakening to what is actually happening at Cania is gradually built, heightening awareness, both Anne's and the reader's.
Tortuous, ominous and at times repellingly fascinating, this was a startling read.
Talk about 'supping with a long spoon!'

A NetGalley ARC

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