Archive | July 13, 2013

Elite: 1 (Eagel Elite) Rachel Van Dyken

 

Arc supplied by Netgalley.

I’d read Rachels’ The Bet and didn’t like that, it had loads of rave reviews but just wasn’t one for me so you’d think I’d avoid Elite. Still, I’ve read books by favourite authors that I haven’t liked, not everything an author writes is going to appeal, so discarding someone on the basis of one book is a mistake I think. Anyway, I read the sample, realised it clearly is New Adult as it says, but that’s fine as I enjoy some well written New and Young Adult. So, on with the book. The story outlined in the description is pretty accurate for the start. Trace, farm girl brought up with grandparents has won a scholarship to Eagle Elite College. There’s only one each year so she is very privileged. Her gran has recently died so Granddad sends her off from the farm (and cows) in Wyoming and she intends to make the best of the fantastic opportunity. Graduates all hold excellent jobs and she wants to be a high earner to take care of her granddad.
The start is horrific for her, the other kids are snobbish and she’s ridiculed for her clothes and ways. Luckily she has a lovely room-mate in the form of Monroe, sister to Nixon the student president who seems to run the school as everyone defers to him. He and his close friends comprise the Elect and there are stringent rules about interaction with them. Basically, don’t πŸ™‚ and always defer to their every whim. They set the tone for the bullying and seem to be the epitome of snobbery. Its very exaggerated form of the arrogance and bullying that happens in so many schools, but as time passes Trace sees that beneath the Rules Nixon imposes there’s more to him, and that often what seems unreasonable is done for a sensible reason. There are moments when I applaud her bravery in standing up to the Elect, moments when I want to shake her and say β€œwhat the hell!!” and moments when as yet another secret comes out I’m wondering what next is going to be revealed. One moment Nixon is a bully, then he’s all over her, then he’s back to being an arrogant ar-se again. As the book unfolds more and more layers of what started as a simple school/college bullying turns into a huge secret conspiracy, and I’m unsure just who is who. Even Trace is more than she thinks she is along with Grandpa and of course The Elect.
Its a very dialogue based book – they’re always my favourite and as usual I had to do some mental maths when the novel talks about school/college. The US system is different – here in UK its generally school til 16, college 16-18 and university after that, but these kids seems to be 18-20 yet its college and I have to remind myself of the difference in ages. The alcohol bit too – here in UK you can drink at 18 not 21 as US. Anyway, once my mind was round that I appreciated the way the novel opened out, and moved from a simple story into one that was very involved and full of secrecy. I can see criticisms about the way the Elect run the school and are more than they seem, but I think we need to bear in mind the target age group of New Adult who are often much more open to that. So long as its written in a fairly believable way I’m all for a bit of leeway, it makes for a more interesting story. There were parts that I felt opened out too quickly, people who went from one thing to another in what seems like a single move, no real build up – granddad is one. Still, its already a decently long story (hurrah- I love length in a novel so I can get really engrossed) so extending their parts would perhaps have made it too long for some people.
I can’t find it on Amazon kindle so can’t give a VFM rating but its a lovely 336 print book pages. Its well edited, didn’t find many mistakes (not that I really look but if there are more than a few they always stand out) and I’m so glad I gave Rachels’ writing a second look. Its a part story with a follow up book, and I’d love to read and review that.
Stars: I’m hovering here, its not quite a five for me but TBH that may be because I’m not target audience, I’m pretty sure the 18-25 age group who like this sort of novel would five star it but its better than just four star, so four and half from me.

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