02 January 2015

Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm starting to think we're seeing some sort of Faustian trend in young adult literature.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is another one of those "a girl goes to a school that is mysterious, and Things Happen" stories. In this case, the school, at first blush, is an ultracompetitive boarding school on an island off the coast, and the school is not one that seems to have a traditional education as much as exists to help kids advance their innermost talents. Very strange way to do it, and Anne is a girl who is an artist and is being told her talent is something much different. This, of course, prompts her to further uncover the mysteries of the island, from why they can't interact with the villagers to the overbearing concern her "guardian," the person assigned to her at the school, has on her well-being.

While this book appears to be pretty divisive, I ultimately liked the conceit and where it went with it. There are a lot of ideas that float around that generally work well with the understanding that new situations can be chaotic and weird. The odd sexuality bits felt superfluous because of how they were introduced and basically abandoned, but that is really the only major fault. A more straightforward approach in all areas might have been beneficial on a whole, but that's more a style preference.

Overall, I'm definitely interested in where this will go next. A cool, different take on some existing YA tropes.

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