Night School

I guess it was unrealistic to think it would last forever.  It started with The Hunger Games.  After being blown away by that book and then discovering this whole genre of dystopian and apocalyptic books with their amazing worlds and complex characters I started this blog.  Book after book I was not disappointed – – until I was.  Lately, it seems that all my posts are along the lines of how much I disliked a book instead of the hot streak I was on for the last few years.  Where is the next Suzanne Collins, Ally Condie, or Jonathan Maberry?  Has the popularity of this genre, with its Hollywood turn, been the cause of less talented writers jumping in?

When I write a bad review I want to say that I am conscious of the fact that no, I haven’t published a book.  Some would say that critics do what they do because they couldn’t do the work themselves, but was it necessary for Siskel and Ebert to make a film to be able to comment?  Is it necessary for those of use who have book review blogs to have written a book to be able to give our opinion?   Think about this on a different scale, do you have to be a trained chef in order to express the opinion that an entree was terrible or wondrous?  I think all that is required are taste buds.  By that token if someone were to ask what qualifies me to write a review, well I could hem and haw and mention my bachelor’s in Journalism or my Master’s in Creative Writing.  I could talk about having read thousands of books in my lifetime and hundreds in this particular genre.  Really, though I don’t feel too much of a need to justify myself as I started this blog to reflect on what I read and thought, it’s my personal opinion and if it leads people to a book that they might not have heard about otherwise, or one someone was on the fence about reading, then that’s great.  All I have wanted to do is share a love of this genre, and maybe that has made me a bit protective of it, and disappointed that the quality of work seems to be slipping lately.

I am particularly conscious in this review that the author, Christi Daugherty, is a new author and I don’t want to discourage this woman from writing at all, I just want to encourage her toward better writing.  Night School is the story of a teen Allie who is a teen delinquent stereotype, good girl gone bad after some vague family tragedy.  Her concerned parents end up sending her to some weird boarding school full of the rich, smart and beautiful.  It’s far from some military academy so it seems weird to me that Allie doesn’t question the fact that she is not allowed to call her family, in fact all electronic devices…computers, cell phones, etc. are banned.  I don’t see that as being viable in our digital age. Anyway, Allie’s tough girl makeup comes off as he becomes best friends with Jo and has two boys vying for her attention.  Her apathy at not questioning the students who are allowed up past curfew and patrol the grounds seems unrealistic.  I guess in a nutshell that’s my issue with the book, everything about it lacks anything resembling real life.  The characters are cartoonish in their stereotypes, the romance reads like it was written by someone who has never been in one, and the great mystery of this unusual school is yawn inducing compared to the regular nightly news.

Lately when I have read a book that I haven’t much liked, I feel that having invested a certain amount of time in reading it, that I must continue with the next one, even if that means skimming it.  Not this time, if there was just one decent element I would have fallen back into this habit, but nothing excited me about the world building, the characters or the plot.  So I am expelling myself from Night School I really have my fingers crossed that the next book I read in this genre will put me squarely back on track to enjoying this genre again.