Title: The Academy: Introductions
Author: C.L. Stone
Series: The Ghost Bird, #1
Format: Kindle freebie
As of typing this, it's still free.
My rating: 4 / 5
With an agoraphobic mother and a barely-there father, Sang abhors the isolation keeping her in the shadows. The only thing Sang craves is a fresh start and to be accepted as ordinary by her peers, because for her being different meant being cast out alone.
When her family moves to a new school district, Sang infiltrates a group of boys nearly perfect in every way. Grateful for an influence outside of her parents’ negativity, she quickly bonds with the boys, hoping to blend in and learn from them what it means to have a natural relationship with friends.
Only the boys have secrets of their own and they’ll do anything to keep her safe from the knowledge of the mysterious Academy that they've sworn allegiance to. Bit by bit, Sang discovers that her friends are far from the normalcy she expected. Will her loyalty change when she's forced to remain in the dark, or will she accept that she's traded one house of secrets for another?
Meet Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke and North in a story about differences and loyalty, truth and mystery, friendships and heart-throbbing intimacy.
The Academy, ever vigilant.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Hand on heart, I have no idea what this book or series is really about… but I do know that I really liked Introductions! This is one of the strangest reviews I will ever write, as I can’t really tell you about the story – hell, even after reading the book I don’t know what the series is about! The book does exactly what it says in the title – it’s an introduction. We get to meet a new character in every chapter or so, and we get a few hints here and there about their backgrounds and the surrounding area, and a couple of mentions of an “Academy”. Other than that, not much really happens in the book… but, I enjoyed it! It’s one of the most bizarre situations I’ve ever been in after reading a book! I can’t for the life of me figure out why I really enjoyed a book that basically introduces a bunch of random characters, with only a paper thin plot that didn’t really go anywhere. No clue!
Let me see if I can explain things. Sang is our narrator, and she has just moved to new town in South Carolina with her family. She has a rough home life, with an abusive and controlling mother who restricts both her elder daughter Marie, and Sang’s every more. She is discouraged from any interactions with strangers – boys in particular, and the entire population in general. Sang decides to sneak out of the house one night, and she runs into one of her neighbours – or more accurately, his dog, Max. Max is the overly friendly hyper kind of pooch and decides the perfect greeting is a tackle-hug in the pouring rain. Sang is injured as a result, and this is where we get to meet Kota, who appears just in time to drag Max off of Sang. The rest of the book progresses in a sort of similar fashion – Sang does X, meets different-neighbourhood-boy-Y, she gets in trouble, her mother turns into a psycho when one of the boys rings her at home, and then at times we have little gatherings of all the guys and Sang together.
Now, I didn’t have a very good start with the book. Sang basically does everything she has been thought NOT to do by her mother. After being injured when Max jumps on her, she lets Kota persuade her into going home with him to get cleaned up. Ok, yes, Sang is very socially awkward and has next to no people skills, and even though she’s in pain, her decision was to go into a stranger’s house - and stay the night. Yeah, warning bells were ringing mighty loud for me, and I was afraid the book would go downhill from there. After every spontaneous decision Sang makes, she becomes cautious and realises she probably shouldn’t have done what she did, but she goes right back to her reckless ways a little while later. Hindsight is one thing, but for a girl that has been sheltered and warned about the evils of the world as much as Sang has, it was a bit hard to believe she’d be so willing to rebel and put herself in potential harm’s way to the extent that she did.
I think what ended up making me really enjoy the book, and ultimately want to continue the series, was the dialogue. I really enjoyed Sang’s interactions with each character, and she’s quite the smart mouth. I couldn’t help but smile at their banter and be carried along from chapter to chapter. All seven – yes, seven – guys that are introduced are kind of adorable! For the most part, they were distinguishable from each other, and each seems to have an interesting back story. It’s one of those occasions where I’ll throw my hands up and say forget love-triangles. Been there, done that. We now have love-octagons! Yes. No word of a lie. Why have a triangle when you could have an octagon? This should get interesting…
I got this book as a Kindle freebie a while back, and I hate to say but I usually start Kindle freebies with a sense of dread. I’ve read some terrible ones over the years, and each one I decide to read I have that same feeling of ‘I really hope this will be half-way decent’ comes flooding back. It’s become like a safety blanket at this stage. I’m so glad I can say I needn’t have worried when I started this book. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Introductions, and I’ll definitely be continuing on with the series in the future.