* * * * 3/4
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.
One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in and why.
As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.
I came across this title through Stacking The Shelves and saw that many fellow bloggers had picked this book. The title and the cover were far too enticing to pass this over. I have to say that this is one of the creepier reads I’ve had in a while. There were certain things that reminded me of The Deepest Night series (believe me, that’s a good thing and also one of my favorites) but Joanna Wiebe has created her own fantastic world here.
Anne’s initial start at her new school is anything but smooth. Everyone is bizarre including the students, the administrative staff, the teachers but most of all, the headmaster who takes the creep factor to soaring new heights. So here she is all alone, cut off from any communication with the outside world (no internet or cellphones people!) and utterly confused by her strange surroundings. I was perplexed as to why her dad would knowingly send her off to what seems like the edge of nowhere. But don’t worry folks, Anne befriends Pilot who likes to go against what’s expected at the school and he becomes her sole support system while she’s there. And of course, there’s the unattainable hot guy who is hot and cold towards her. But his secrets and that of the school are far too intriguing to ignore and she finds herself wrapped up in a life-altering situation.
This a well-written, compelling mystery that only gets creepier the deeper she digs. Anne herself is brave and unapologetic for her inquisitive mind which makes her an awesome heroine. The twist ending is reminiscent of a movie I won’t name right now but I’m pretty sure you’ll know what I’m referring to once you read it. But once I got there, even I have to admit that I was thrown for a loop and the clues were nicely dispersed.
Congrats Joana Wiebe! All the buzz about this book is definitely warranted and I highly recommend it!