Review: The Académie

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The AcadémieThe Académie by Susanne Dunlap
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on February 28, 2012
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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one-half-stars

Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.

I love the cover (how much do I want that dress?!?!), but it didn’t immediately say historical fiction to me. My first thought was high class school, only modern. Further study revealed the old-fashioned necklace and the sleeves on the dress. Either way, pretty! Given how much I am drawn to book covers, I was, of course, super excited to read this book, because, obviously, I judge solely by appearances.

The story is told from the perspectives of three different girls, Eliza, Hortense, and Madeleine. While I do tend to like books told from the perspectives of multiple characters, I had a bit of difficulty with this one. For one thing, not one of these three girls was especially likable. All lacked common sense. Often, I also had difficulty telling the narrators apart as well.

I also thought it was strange that the book was called The Académie when most of the book was not actually spent at the title institution. There were few scenes about their education. All the school really did was bring the main characters together (in fact, only two of the three attended the school). Rather than being about the boarding school, it was about three, well actually four (Caroline, who has as much ‘screen’ time as the others, perhaps more than Madeleine does not get any narration), girls and their pursuit of love.

What really struck me here I guess was how young even the oldest of the girls seemed. Their romantic plans seem so childish, even less realistic than a lot of the YA romances where the 15 year olds are convinced they will be in love for all time. I didn’t ship any of the couples in here at all. Everyone involved just needs to do some more maturation.

I really hope that some serious editing was done before the publication, because this galley had way more typos and grammatical errors than the average. I’ve done some research on Dunlap and have heard good things about her, so I do plan to give one of her earlier books a try.

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