Think a modern day Oliver Twist meets an Academy for teen Sociopaths. Flick is recruited to the highly exclusive Mandel Academy and finds he needs to survive by his wits in order to stay alive. This is where the story has an almost Hunger Game flair going for it only former graduates are the ones who put bids on who will be the top of the class. There's three groups: The wolves(who are on the top), Androids(smart but not enough to be at the top), and Ghosts. Only the most ruthless graduate and become highly successful and rich. The others disappear.
The writing reminded me of a modern day Oliver Twist with orphans and wayward, trouble teens being given a chance to do something with themselves. Only in this case it's to turn them into ruthless individuals who become predators and destroy the weak links. Social Darwinism at it's worse!
The school is ruthless and the Mean Kids here make bullies from other schools look passive. Any kind of humanity is put to the test with the over all goal of making students self-serving and past feeling. Very scary.
It would have been so easy to paint Flick as a total hard, selfish protagonist. And at first he does come across this way. But the author peels back his tough exterior little by little to show how much Flick isn't like the others at Mandel Academy. His relationship with Joi shows his vulnerability and humanity. It's a fine line he walks. He can't let any 'weakness' show or else he knows he'll end up as a Ghost.
There's mystery, intrigue, suspense, and even hints of humanity. The director's idea that he can turn a person to a sociopath is chilling. This reminded me of when I was in college and worked with a group of emotionally challenged teens. I saw how if the odds were stacked against them and they'd never heard any kind of love or acceptance, they could indeed 'turn' out to be what others had already labeled them. Handel is calculating and a psychopath in his own way. Readers won't know who to exactly trust as there are reveals and twists throughout.
Well-written tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fans of Ally Carter's HEIST SOCIETY will enjoy this twist on the whole idea of teen criminals.
2. Think modern day Oliver Twist meets Academy of teen sociopaths