Friday, 8 March 2013

Review - Secret Lives by Gabriella Poole

Secret Lives
By Gabriella Poole
Hodder & Stoughton, 288 pages
Published: August 6th 2009

"The Darke Academy is a school like no other. An elite establishment that moves to a new exotic city every term, its students are impossibly beautiful, sophisticated. and rich, and the more the new scholarship girl Cassie Bell learns about the Academy, the more curious she becomes.
What sinister secrets are guarded by the Few - —the select group of students who keep outsiders away? Who is the dark stranger prowling the corridors at night? And what really happened a year earlier, when the last scholarship girl died in mysterious circumstances?
Cassie quickly discovers that a little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, but knowing too much can be deadly."

-From the book

3 out of 5

Starting at a prestigious boarding school as a scholarship student already has Cassie Bell feeling like an outsider, but when she starts to uncover the secrets of the exclusive Darke Academy, she starts to feel even more lost at sea.

I found this a difficult one to review, because I have mixed emotions about this book. I neither loved it nor hated it, but there was something compelling about it. The plotline was something I've seen before, but there were definitely elements which I hadn't seen, which was a pleasant surprise.

At times it was a little predictable (it was obvious from the start who the respective villains and heroes were), but I think that's part of it's charm. You weren't constantly second guessing character's actions. While I found it took a little time to get to the main action, the time up until then wasn't dull like it could've been, and we learn things about the characters which help to flesh them out and make them more rounded individuals.

It sometimes felt as though the motivations behind certain actions, as well as the backstory for most of the characters, weren't very well developed, but as this is the first in the series, I'm hoping we get more insight in future books. Several characters (Ranjit & Isabella in particular) had the potential to be great stand out characters, however they lacked the depth fully required for this, which was disappointing.
The quality of the narrative and descriptive passages was something I loved, making this a smooth and enjoyable read. While I wouldn't rush to recommend this book, I also wouldn't try and dissuade anyone from reading it.


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