Author: Marta Acosta
Series: Stand Alone
Published By: Tor/Macmillian (July 3, 2012)
Source: ARC Provided by the Publisher
Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy
My Rating: 3 Stars
When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.
Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.
The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.
Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?
I can see why this book has some mixed reviews. I think it is one of those reads that a lot of people will either really enjoy or just not care for at all.
It begins with an event in Jane's life that she barely remembers. An event that adds an air of mystery to the story. One that intrigues you and makes you think.
However, the story doesn't really begin there. It begins years later when Jane is 16 and accepted into a prestigious school for girls.
The story almost has a Victorian Gothic feel to it as it begins and describes Birch Grove and it's residents, something I happen to adore in books but I can see why it wouldn't appeal to everyone. Being a lover of both the paranormal and historical, it is right up my alley.
I need to admit first off, that I had a hard time liking the main character Jane sometimes. She was so smart yet did some pretty stupid things sometimes. It was sad the lengths she was willing to go to sometimes just to fit in and just to make it in a world that she wasn't sure she belonged in. It made me feel both sad and angry for her and at her. I wanted to hug her one minute and knock some sense into her the next.
I will say this though, when I had almost giving up on her, she did turn her life around and grow a back bone and start seeing what was truly in front of her and start to really stand up for herself. I think if that hadn't happened, if she hadn't redeemed herself, then I would have had a really hard time liking this book at all.
I think this time it was the secondary characters that really made the story. Mary Violet was so fun and loveable and just a comic relief that the story needed. I really liked her character. She is someone I would have loved to have been friends with in high school.
Jack was pretty great too, weirdness and all. He wasn't your typical male heroine by any means. In fact he was just down right strange at times but his attitude and behavior just made him that much more appealing in a book already full of the unusual.
This was a very different take on vampire lore (among other things) and it was nice to see something new and fresh in the genre.
There were times this story was a little slow and it dragged a little but overall this was an interesting read and one that I am glad I took a chance one.