Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

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Author: Joanna Wiebe
Series: The V Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: BenBella Books
Expected Publication: January 14, 2014

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.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant was a book I knew I wanted to read the moment I came across it on Goodreads. I knew based on the description that it'd be good but when I started it I never would've guessed that it would turn out to be one of my favorite books read this year. 

One of the best parts about The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is the way it combines so many genres. Murder Mystery, Thriller, Action Adventure, Romance, Paranormal and Horror are blended together with the Young Adult narrative quite creatively. I really enjoyed how smooth the transitions were between the times Anne spent relaxing with Molly or Pilot and the decidedly darker tones when she was at school vying to win the Big V. It kept me guessing right up til the end and never left me bored. 

Another thing that was great about the story were the characters. I really liked Anne. She has flaws but is artistic, headstrong and smart. Compared to Harper or any of the other girls she's a Saint. I also liked Molly. She was a great friend to Anne. It nearly broke my heart when they were separated due to circumstances beyond either ones control. Lastly, I liked Harper. If Regina from Mean Girls was crossed with Jennifer from Jennifer's Body you'd have Harper. She's to put it blunty a bitch with a capital B but honestly that is what makes her the perfect competition for Anne. As for the guys both Pilot & Ben have definitely been gifted in the looks department.  There is a small love triangle between the guys and Anne but it doesn't detract from the story instead it plays a very important role with how things play out. I'm  just going to say that I'm definitely Team Ben and I'll leave it at that. 

Lastly, I loved the twist at the end. I love when a story can pull the rug out from under me and The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant definitely succeeded in doing that. While the story does end on a cliffhanger all the major questions are answered and the plot resolved sufficiently (for me at least). To say I'm excited to see where the story goes in the next book is an understatement. Like I said it's resolved but with a cliffhanger the likes of which you'll just have to read the book to find out what it is. I will say that I'm rooting for Anne though cause boy does she ever have quite the dilemma on her hands.

Now as I mentioned above the story did have a few small hiccups along the way. While they weren't enough to make me downgrade my rating I did take notice of them. 

First off, At times the characters felt like they were trying too hard to be socially relevant. The slang and snarkiness of Anne and her classmates felt very forced almost like the Author was trying to relate to how teenagers of today talk without witnessing any conversations for herself to set the standard by. To me it was bizarre at times but maybe I'm just too far removed from being a teen to "get" it.

Secondly, I really hated the whole dance battle partly through the book. It just screamed bad 80's movie flashback. I just don't see Anne or heck even Harper being the sort of girl that would  bust a groove all Save the Last Dance Style in the middle of the dance Big V competition or not. Hair pulling cat fight with clothes being torn off maybe but dance battle no.

Finally, I really have to wonder what Anne was thinking staying at Cania Christy after the whole Molly debacle. I get that she feels she owes it to her father to stick things out but c'mon how can one be so accepting of what happened?  The warning bells and sirens after that incident would have most normal people running for the next boat out of dodge Big V be damned. 

Final Thoughts
Overall, despite the stories few faults I am completely in love with the start of this series. If you like character driven stories than you'll love The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant. I highly recommend picking this one up and giving it go. I will note that the story is probably best left to older readers as it explores dark concepts like suicide, murder, rape and using sexual gratification to get ahead. This one definitely skirts the line between YA & Adult in this readers opinion. With that being said, I'll be rating The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe ★★★★.

*Copy reviewed received through Netgalley. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in an which way  for providing them.

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