Night School (Night School 1) by C.J Daugherty
Published by Atom
4 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback (also available in ebook – order here)
Ok, so I like many others presumed this was a supernatural based book. Its not. The cover and the premise are such that I had thought it was an english version of the much loved Shadow Falls series. That was my mistake, and I have to admit it threw me a bit and I’ve waited a week to write my review, because I needed to restock and think about the book on a contemporary level, rather than paranormal! (oh and please don’t moan, this is not a spoiler, the book doesn’t say, or pretend to be supernatural in origin, it was me that assumed incorrectly).
Ok so – Night School is about teenage delinquent Allie Sheridan, after her brother disappears (pre-book timeline) she goes ‘off the rails’ in true teenager style and after her third arrest, her parents send her to a kind of reform school, Cimmeria Academy, and over the summer holidays no less. Allie is less than impressed, the school is old fashioned (no tv, internet, phones etc) and more than a little weird. In her welcome pack there are numerous instructions and several warnings about ‘Night School’. The warnings are simple: Membership is invite only, membership is secret, and you must never ask about the members or their activities. EVER. Like I said. weird. But before long, Allie has made friends, attracted some possible love interests and is settling in nicely, until she is chased by a strange animal, then there’s a murder and attack at the school, something is definitely off – and Allie gets the feeling its not only linked to her, but that everyone else is lying to her about it.
Now you can see why I thought it was supernatural, I presumed we were going to have ghosts and witches and vampires at school together, but we don’t. But the story is compelling all the same, I thoroughly enjoyed it, although was a little disappointed in the ‘big reveal’ which wasn’t really all that big, or reveal-ie, more of a fizzle. The writing was refreshing, its nice to have an english author who writes about real world english teens, Allie is just that, normal, she reacts to the bad stuff that happens in her life, in a normal way. There were a few niggles, apart from the somewhat unsatisfying ending (its a series) and obvious twist, there was also the attempted date-rape scene (I’ll keep it vague) which was glossed over and forgiven in a matter of minutes, yet I would expect a writer who is aiming a book at teen girls to highlight how much that is NOT ok, and its NOT to be forgiven, and is DEFINITELY to be reported.
In conclusion, I think I enjoyed the book, a week later and I’m still debating whether I’d of enjoyed it knowing there were no ghosts/vampires etc, and I cannot decide if there was enough of a pull to keep me interested otherwise. Not every story need paranormal twists, but those that are contemporary need to be weighty and fresh, and I wonder if this was one of those that would of benefitted from a ghost or two in it! I finally went for 4 stars, the story is good, fairly original, and Allie is likeable, I would (and will) read more in the series, but to keep me interested they’ll need to push the boundaries a little more.