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9781442440302_p0_v4_s260x420Reviewed by Carrie Ardoin

Seamus Hinkle has been in trouble at school before–but nothing as serious as the kind of trouble he’s in now. In fact, he’s done something so bad that his parents decide to send him away to the rough Kilter Academy, which promises to give him a complete turnaround.

But once Seamus gets to Kilter Academy, he’s both shocked and a little bit horrified to learn that the boarding school is actually a training ground for misbehaved kids to develop into professional Troublemakers! Although Seamus is ashamed of what he did to earn his ticket to Kilter, he soon discovers that he has a natural knack for getting into trouble–and at this school, that makes him the star pupil.

The Bad Apple was a cute middle grade novel with heart, and a unique take on the “kid gets sent away to boarding school” trope. Seamus is of course, devastated to be sent away by his parents, even though he understands what he did was serious enough for this to be his punishment. For the first few days, he even tries to make trouble so he can get himself kicked out–but it takes him a little while to understand that making trouble is just what this school wants him to do!

I enjoyed seeing Seamus make so many friends so quickly at Kilter Academy. Though I only saw him in his normal middle school for the first chapter or so, he seemed lonely there, and he was being bullied. It’s great that he found a place and people that fit him, which is something all 12-year-old boys desperately need.

There were a couple of things I thought were questionable, though. For one thing, Seamus’ mother seems to act very callous and detached towards him after he gets sent off to boarding school. The reason why was never really explained, and I found myself truly wanting to know why she was acting this way towards her only son. This is made to look even weirder by the time you get to the end of the book, and was actually annoying to me by then because I still hadn’t found the answers I was looking for.

This book does end with a rather good cliffhanger, so be prepared to dive into the second book of the series immediately! I think anyone who loves middle grade stories with a dose of humor will enjoy The Bad Apple.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Aladdin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.