The way a book is marketed can either be a genius move or a total failure. In the case of Anne Applegate’s The Last Academy, I sadly have to consider it a failure. On Goodreads, The Last Academy is compared to a certain boarding school book and a very well known thriller flick. I don’t want to mention the titles of either ones, because once you know the movie especially, it is all too easy to figure out exactly what is going on in The Last Academy, setting you up for a very disappointing read.
After being humiliated by her best friend Lia at a pool party, Camden Fisher settles in for a fresh start at a boarding school. Making friends at Lethe Academy isn’t all that easy; Camden’s roommate Tamara is rude and inconsiderate, and the other boys and girls tease Camden. As if things could not get any worse for Camden, her father even tells her she doesn’t belong at home anymore.
Though it’s difficult, Camden finally makes friends with a few girls and even develops a crush on Mark Elliott. Just as things are finally starting to improve for Camden, her new friend Jessie disappears. Camden is desperate to unravel the mystery behind her disappearance, but no one else seems worried about Jessie. Soon Jessie isn’t the only one who has vanished, and as Camden gets closer to finding out the identity of the man who has taken them, she learns that there are some things best left unanswered.
The Last Academy feels like a very poor rip-off of “the movie I will not mention because it gives everything away.” Additionally, if you happen to know a fair amount of Greek mythology, you’ll have the entire book figured out within the first few chapters. However, if you don’t, the book might just come across as poorly written and edited. No details are given as to why it was decided Camden would go away to a boarding school far away from her parents. There are some parts of the book that will come across to some readers as spooky or creepy, but it was nothing new to me. I’ve seen countless horror/thriller flicks that it really takes a lot to crawl under my skin. The “scary” parts also will make no sense until the last few chapters.
I know it seems like I completely hated this book, but there were bits of it I liked. I just wish Applegate’s editor had had the sense to structure the book differently. All of the information the reader needs to understand the entire book is provided in a conversation between Camden and another character in the last few chapters. I would have liked to see Camden investigating the disappearances and uncovering some of the information in interesting ways rather than just lazily being told everything at the end. Unfortunately it shows that this is a debut novel, and I felt like what I read should have been considered one of the rough drafts. The Last Academy had potential, but the marketing and the editing did it a disservice.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Point. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.