Let me be absolutely clear on this, Night School is pure awesome sauce, just not what you would have expected from the title.
First of all, it's not some silly paranormal YA. More of a murder mystery with few good old conspiracy theories and secret societies thrown in.
Secondly, can I just gush about Allie and Carter? *insert gushing now* I haven't read about such two gorgeous level-headed and mature teenagers since Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T.Michelle.
Allie is one troubled young girl, and she's been like that since the disappearance of her older brother over a year ago. She is acting out, getting drunk, drawing graffiti on school grounds, and consequently hopping from one London school to another until her parents have enough and send her into the countryside to a posh boarding school.
However, Cimmeria is just as taken aback by the red-headed rebel wearing Doc Martens as Allie by the school. The students are rich, privileged, and their families have been to the same school for generations. Allie doesn't fit the pattern.
Nevertheless, she tries her hardest to evolve into someone better, gets befriended by Jo, hyperactive unstable vulnerable girl who knows it all, courted by a French hottie, Sylvain, and despised by a residential mean girl.
You would think the rest will slide into a cliche? But it won't. There is a Summer Ball, a vicious murder, strange noises in the forest, abandoned church and a mysterious top secret Night School. Friends become enemies, and enemies turn into allies, when the biggest villain of all is threatening Cimmeria's whole existence.
There is no love triangle, although Allie does go from Sylvain to Carter. What I love is that Allie/Carter relationship is gradual - allies, friends, more than friends, but the whole thing never goes overboard with all the drama and "I die for you" sort of thing which so annoys the hell out of me in YA. Girlfriend/boyfriend is not the most important thing in their life. Revealing of the secrets, murder investigation, multiple conspiracies is.
Allie doesn't allow herself to be bullied when things get rough and doesn't bend under pressure. The teachers also never turn a blind eye on what is happening and actively help her. The book never feels surreal or silly, it's grounded and realistic.
People change, they make mistakes, err in their judgement by they also try to make amends, and I loved that. Sylvain is a particular good example of that.
All in all, it might seem like British YA authors suffer from a preferential treatment on my blog, but there is just something about them that I find closer to my heart than US YA authors. They are just grittier and more realistic and leave deeper impact on me.
Absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone!