Four teens must cling to each other for survival when they find that their remote wilderness boarding school is actually a school for vampires who are all too eager to feast on their new classmates.
Jung Soo, Hector Campos, Kathy Campion-Swink and Lionel Worthington each have different reasons for accepting scholarships to the Sawtooth Wilderness Academy: Soo loves the mountains and hopes to improve her English; Hector is offered the school as an alternative to juvie; Kathy has run away from a slew of boarding schools, and her parents were reassured to hear the academy has never had a successful runaway; and Lionel, who dreams of joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has been promised private violin instruction at the academy after cuts to arts funding and rejectionfrom the Chicago High School for the Arts left him without other routes to pursue his dreams. Little do they know that the academy is actually a school for vampires; it has recently become a public charter school in order to accept state funding. To keep its funding, however, the school must pass an inspection by the school board, demonstrating a certain level of diversity, which the student body is severely lacking—that’s where the scholarship students come in. While the faculty has taken measures to protect the new students during the weeks leading up to the inspection, that hardly makes them feel safe: The Satanic Legion’s strong presence in the school is dying to find a way around the rules, and the moody, unpredictable teenage vampires constantly drool over them as a convenient source of nutrition. While they quickly find allies among the students and faculty, the main characters know they must escape. But how? And who will get hurt in the process? Schechter (Murder in Millbrook, 2012) manages to explore complex questions about ethics, diversity and culture without proselytizing to readers or detracting from an absolutely riveting storyline that few YA authors beyond Neal Shusterman have pulled off. The slow, sophisticated narrative structure reflects Shusterman’s, using multiple points of view and a lot of patience to allow readers to form their own opinions about richly developed characters as the story unfolds. While fans of teen vampires will be delighted to find something different, teen dystopia and horror fans who turn their noses up at the genre should certainly make an exception for this smart, fun read from an up-and-coming YA author.
Beautifully refined, intelligent and profound.