Title: The Academy
Author: Quinn Anderson
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 366 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
At a Glance: The Academy was a bit muddled and slightly overworked, but I enjoyed getting to know the various characters, and the author managed to pull it off in the end.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: True love stabs you in the front.
Nick Steele just wants a normal life, cliché or not. He had one once, back in Chicago. Before his father died and he took a year off from college to grieve. Now, he’s starting fresh at a prestigious—but tiny—Catholic university. Adjusting to small-town life will be a challenge, along with making friends and keeping his scholarship. All he wants to do is blend in, get his diploma, and go back home.
But Sebastian Prinsen—campus heartthrob and a notorious player—has other plans. He notices Nick right away and makes a bet with his two best friends: Who can kiss the new kid first? Nick seems immune to Sebastian’s charms, and yet genuine chemistry sparks between them. Even worse, real feelings do too. Sebastian falls more and more every time Nick blows him off, but if he comes clean about the bet, Nick will hate him forever.
The last thing Nick wants is to fall in love while he’s still grieving, but Sebastian feels like home to him. Nick wants that so badly he may ignore the warning signs and risk his fragile heart once more.
Review: Quinn Anderson delves into college life with her novel The Academy. The author states that this is a rewrite of a previous novel, and it made me wonder what the length of the first book was for this one was a bit long and might have benefited from a closer editing, mainly because it felt like the same angsty ground was covered multiple times with little impact on forwarding the plot. Despite that, there was some solid character development in this novel, and I enjoyed some of the characters very much.
The story revolves around four main men: Sebastian, his two friends Dante and Theo, and the new guy on campus, Nick. The three friends spy Nick across campus, and Sebastian decides to make a bet with them. They apparently have a pseudo trophy that has a barbie head glued to the top, due to the original being broken off, that they call Barbzilla. With the trophy up for grabs, the three bet on who will be first to get Nick to kiss them. Sebastian is fairly cocky about the fact that he will be the winner and sets off to pursue Nick relentlessly. However, Nick is no one’s fool, and with the past year weighing so heavily on him, he is determined not to screw up his full scholarship to the academy, so he rebuffs Sebastian, for the most part. But there is no denying there is chemistry between the two of them and before long, Sebastian finds himself in a quandary. All the false bravado and seemingly cool and callous ways Sebastian beds various men hides a real fear of abandonment—in fact, that was what the bet was all about. Seb fears that after graduation his friends will leave him, much like his divorcing parents already have. Yes, he is rich, and yes, he is always taken care of in terms of physical needs, but Sebastian longs for loving parents who want to spend time with him. His views of love and relationships are rather skewed, to put it mildly. Consequently, when he begins to realize he is falling for Nick, he runs scared. And when Nick finally initiates a kiss, Sebastian cruelly reveals the bet, pushing Nick away. However, little does Sebastian know that there is more than meets the eye to everything about how he and Nick have been interacting, and it may be Sebastian who loses the bet after all.
The strength in this novel really lies in the side characters. The relationship between Theo and Dante was rather sweet and fun to watch progress. Nick’s roommate, Deen, was just the best and provided comic relief that was greatly needed in such a heavy novel. I mention the word ‘heavy’ because the style in which the author chose to reveal more about her main characters demanded we hear their constantly running internal dialogue. While this can be a really effective tool to lay groundwork about what makes a person tick, and show who they truly are, this story used this development vehicle so often that eventually it began to slow the pace of the story and frustrate me. For instance, after the third or fourth time of rehashing how Nick felt about the loss of his father, I really got it and didn’t need for it to come up in the story yet again.
The same went for Nick’s strained relationship with his parents and the way in which they were so selfishly self-absorbed they basically had no time for their son. What this novel lacked was a good edit to slough off the constant reminders of what happened to these guys in the past, and more observations about who they were becoming. Instead, it seemed to bog down in constant inner dialogue that became repetitive and boring. However, while that may have been the low in this novel, there were also some really fun and sweet moments between Nick and Seb, and in the time spent with their friends. The plot twist at the end of the novel was both interesting and seemed a tad bit cruel, but I can’t comment too much on that since to do so would give too much away. Suffice it to say that it showed a side of Theo that startled me a bit, and, for me, it also further muddied an already strained relationship between Nick and Sebastian that seemed more antagonistic than loving at times.
Overall, The Academy was a bit muddled and slightly overworked. I enjoyed getting to know the various characters in this novel and, as an ensemble, they were entertaining. The romance was a bit far-fetched, given all the subterfuge and the basis for how it all began, but the author managed to pull it off in the end.
You can buy The Academy here:
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