Monday, July 8, 2013

REVIEW: Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher

Knightley Academy (Knightley Academy, #1) Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Characters were complete cliché. You had your Cinderella character in Henry, your new money character in Adam, your token person of color character in Rohan, and your tomboy girl in Frankie. If you were rich, aristocratic, white, and male, you were a bad guy and hated Henry and his friends because they dared to be different and strayed from their social status. Sure, not all were bad guys, but they were few and far between, aberrations basically. The one bad guy who was not one-dimensional was the evil mastermind. What did he was wrong, but I totally understood why he turned into an extremist. Barring that villain, character development was not deep.

The world building oversimplified and exaggerated the turn of the century setting and its social changes. The pointing out of how people back then were awfully bigoted could not have been more shoved in the readers’ face. I would have minded this less if the pointing out did not feel kind of meaningless and worked against the complexity the book tried to build.

However, while these things were problematic, they did not frustrate me. What frustrated me was the plot, the unaddressed issue of bullying, and the naive politicians.

+ the issues

Despite their attempts, Henry and his friends never successfully wrestled control of the situation and beat the bad guys like I hoped. The plot threw one setback after another at our heroes like there was no tomorrow which made for a steadily depressing read. When they finally discovered the identity of the evil mastermind at the climax — disappointingly by a convenient accident as opposed to an investigation — they were backed into a corner. Only by the grace of fortune and oily mercy of another villain did our adolescent heroes prevail.

On the second issue, characters never confronted the issue of bullying like they should have, especially when they regularly made a big deal about of the Code of Chivalry, Knightley Academy's code of conduct, where disobedience meant expulsion. Valmont and Theobold, the bullies, never faced the consequences like I wanted. I did not like the lack of challenge to the insinuation, however unintended, that keeping silent about bullying was more important than speaking out about bullying, that speaking out was equated as the dishonorable act of tattle-telling.

Oddly enough, the plot and the unaddressed issue of bullying brought the book to a high level of realism. In other words, if this happened in real life, it would have all too believable because kids don’t go around fighting evil masterminds and issues of bullying are rarely addressed, let alone resolved. However, I would have preferred things to be less realistic in lieu for an entertaining book.

Plus, I didn’t think the book intended to be so realistic given how cliché the characters were and how some of them acted inherently paradoxically of their role. To elaborate, the elderly aristocratic politicians who served as members of Knightley Academy’s school board were unbelievably naive. I could not believe these men needed heavy persuasion that Northlands, their rival nation, might dare to defy the peace treaty and reignite the old war. Politicians, naive — WTF? If anything, their first reaction should have been the very opposite, i.e. a quick belief in the treachery of their enemies.

In Conclusion

I rate Knightley Academy 2-stars for it was okay. The book was not entertaining as it could have been. The book played the heroes like a cat to a mouse. While the book is a couple steps above a decent read, I still do not recommend it because the trilogy seems to be on an indefinite hiatus. Book 3 should have been released already a few years ago.

Goodreads | Amazon

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