Release Date: December 23, 2012
Publisher: Arcato Publishing
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. 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. Sang discovers 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.
After reading this book, I am left confused as to what the "it" factor was for me. I was utterly fascinated and I'm not even sure why. This is the start of what I understand is going to be possibly a 20 book series, and only 8 of them are currently published so far. And the title speaks pretty accurately to what this book is like. It is about introducing the characters.
It seems as if we meet a new one of the boy characters with each chapter, and you would think that it would make for a pretty boring book doing nothing but following Sang along as she meets all of these different boys. Not so, however. I found myself led along to each of these meetings and loving the characters so much that I found myself helplessly enjoying it.
Amidst these meetings we also see what Sang's abusive home life is like, and how shocking some of the punishments were that she was forced to endure. Some of them were so bad I found myself utterly sickened that someone could be so nasty and depraved. I couldn't help but love Sang and feel so horrified for her. Due to these conditions, her growing relationships with the Academy boys becomes her sanctuary.
The author has a definite talent for characterization that made this book enthralling. Each of the characters are so well drawn, so real and three-dimensional, I could imagine myself there actually meeting them. I sank myself completely into the setting. I finished the book, as I said, not quite sure why I loved it so much, but knowing that I wanted to read more. I have already bought and read the next seven stories and have had a lot of late nights this week reading them. My decision to read them was a good one, as they just keep getting better. I will probably review the 9th book when it comes out in April, but for now, I am just enjoying the ones I've read so far. I'm loving this series, and this book was definitely a great, ahem, Introduction.