The Last Academy by Anne Applegate

the-last-academyBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Point, 2013
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 316 pages ; 22 cm
  • Interest Level: YA
  • Summary: Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known.  . . .  Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam’s new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don’t seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam–and readers–stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel. Retrieved from Google Books at https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Last_Academy.html?id=5XzI-VmV0OAC    
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-50204-7
  • Subjects:
    • Greek myths – Fiction
    • Death – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: She told me I didn’t’ have to go if I didn’t want to.  But, we both knew that wasn’t really true.

Plot Summary:  After a fight with her best friend Camden Fisher finds herself on a plane leaving Minneapolis and heading for a new life in a private school near the ocean in California.  Despite having a very strange and frightening encounter with an older man on the plane, Cam happily finds herself in the California sunshine heading for the Lethe Academy, a prestigious school filled with beautiful people and elegant appointments.  She meets a lot of new people and begins to make friends.  But, things are not as wonderful as they seem.

Her first clue about the strangeness of the situation is when at the opening dinner she sees the strange man who accosted her on the plane.  His name is Mr. Charon and he owns the land that the school is built on.  Her second clue is the presence of two strange boys in her room talking her Tamara, her roommate after both girls have gone to bed.  And, Tamara denies that they were ever there.  The final straw is the disappearance of another girl, Jessie, in the middle of the night.  Camden is certain something is wrong at Lethe but it will take the rest of the book for her to figure it out.

Critical Evaluation:  The Last Academy is the first and so far only book by Anne Applegate so its flaws are understandable.  The primary one is that it just isn’t that interesting.  The story is about a girl trying to unravel the mysteries she encounters at a school she is suddenly sent to.  From the beginning, from the very first chapter, it is clear that she is either dead or in a coma as a result of being pushed into a hot tub.  The abrupt jump from her being pushed to her sitting with her mom packing her suit cases is very telling for anyone who as read a ghost story or seen one of the many movies where this has happened.  Add to that the name of the mysterious man who threatens her – Charon, also known as the Ferryman of the dead in Greek and Roman mythology – to the name of the school, Lethe – a river in Hades that causes forgetfulness – and the secret behind the story is quite obvious.  This level of heavy-handiness would be more forgivable if the book were written in a way that was more interesting or if it had characters that felt real, believable, or even interesting.  But it doesn’t.  In general, it was just bland; neither very good nor very bad.  A lute warm mouthful of words assembled into a pablum of tedium and triteness.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Anne Applegate is the author of THE LAST ACADEMY as well as this little blurb right here. She always thought writing about herself in third person would feel pretentious and weird, but it turns out she kind of enjoys it.

Genre Designation: Fantasy / Horror

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Greek mythology – Fiction

Book Talk Ideas:  How important is it to forgive someone who has hurt you?  You really benefits if you do and who suffers if you don’t?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

Why this book was selected. I was required to read this for my districts Review and Evaluation so I decided to include it in this project.

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