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The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant [Hardcover]

Joanna Wiebe
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Jan 2014 V Trilogy
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world's wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her-sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks. One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move-even her performance at the school dance-is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in...and why. As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth-and change it-before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books (14 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939529328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939529329
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 354,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This story will envelop you in its mysteries, surprise you with its plot twists, and keep you guessing even to the last page." --San Francisco Book Review "From the very first pages, I was spellbound by this deliciously dark tale of mysterious attraction, cutthroat ambition, and how far we will go to keep the ones we love." --Amy Plum, international bestselling author "An original, breathtakingly written, and often chilling tale of what lengths people will go to for love. Joanna Wiebe has crafted a book that is unputdownable. Joanna has officially made my instant buy list." --Lindsey R. Loucks, author of The Grave Winner "She had me at the introduction of the spooky setting--the kind of stuff readers can lose themselves in. Joanna Wiebe is a fun new author to be on the lookout for!" --Wendy Higgins, author of The Sweet Trilogy "School grounds shrouded in mystery, beautiful student body obsessed with the race to be valedictorian, and a gorgeous, infuriating, unobtainable guy. Welcome to Cania Christy." --A.E. Rought, author of Broken

About the Author

Joanna Wiebe is the author of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant (2014). She is also the cofounder of Copy Hackers and Page 99 Test. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Creepy. 1 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This was a pleasant surprise. Initially the cover drew me to look at the book and when I read the blurb I was pretty much sold. It sounded like something Id enjoy. While it did take me awhile to get into, I still loved every word.

Anne is the daughter of a mortician. She has been around death since forever!! When her father sends her to Cania Christy she has no idea how her life will change. She wonders how her father could send her here because everyone is super rich but soon realises that there is more important things to find out. When the headmaster, whom she finds very creepy, tells her the rules, she knows this isnt as it seems and is intent on finding out.

I really liked Anne, she is smart, strong and inquisitive. When she gets to meet the headmaster, he really creeps her out and with all the secrets and hints and rules he gives she has no idea what to make of him. Here the race for the Big V, Valedictorian, is the most important thing in the school, school work comes second. You aren't graded on your grades but on how well you preform your PT. Your PT is your strongest strength. Once you get your PT you have to live and breath it. Anne is told hers is to "look closer" which is apt because from the get go she has unanswered questions and everyone seems to be avoiding answering them.

Pilot is the son of a famous senator. He has been at Cania for a few years and has no interest in the Big V race so Anne finds herself befriending him. He is easy to talk to and makes her laugh. She finds herself wanting to trust him in a place where no one seems trustworthy. He has her back and soon becomes someone she turns to.

Ben Zin is Annes next door neighbour. He seems untouchable.
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Format:Kindle Edition
Ann Merchant has always been the weird outsider, hard not to be when you're the daughter of the local mortician, and the poorest family in their very rich ZIP code. After her mother commits suicide and Ann finds the body, her father wants her to have a better chance at life, which means being sent to a boarding school for the rich and spoilt on Wormwood Island.

Cania Christy and the island it's on is cut off from the rest of the world, no electronics and only one 15 minute phone call a week. No fraternizing with the villagers, there's even a red line painted on the ground to seperate them from the school. But Cania Christy is shrouded in mystery. Everyone at the school is obsessed with becoming Valedictorian. Everyone has a PT, something they have to live and breathe such as seduction, to become Valedictorian, and the students are graded on everything as part of the competition. Ann is mysteriously drawn to Ben, the son of Dr. Zin, the school's recruiter, who keeps dropping hints about the school.

It soon becomes clear the school isn't what it appears. Ann hears screams and gunshots in the night, students mysteriously disappear, and it turns out that the students parents paid their tuition, not in money...but in favours. Everyone seems to be in on a secret Ann doesn't know about, and as she parts the shroud of cloak and dagger surrounding the school...she quickly wishes she hasn't.

Okay, so I was kept guessing right up until the end of the book. When the big reveal came I was sat smacking my forehead like "of course!", there's so much mystery and twists and turns, you can't guess what's going to happen next.

There's a minor love triangle that really doesn't merit being a distraction, romance isn't the main point of this book.
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Format:Kindle Edition
ARC given by NetGallery

I found this interesting and a good read, if your looking for a story to grip your teeth in, then this is one for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Anne suffers from Mary Sue - syndrome, lots of clichés 20 May 2014
By Majanka - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Anne Merchant has always been different. She’s poor, her mother passed away and her Dad has the best job in the world – he’s a mortician. Yet, somehow, Anne ends up at a super-selective school, Cania Christy, a school for the world’s wealthiest teens. How she got there, since she’s poor? God knows. It’s super-important to be Valedictorian at this school, and even though that should usually mean just getting the best grades, apparently it means a lot more here. You can even set one of the challenge yourselves, to become Valedictorian. But despite becoming Valedictorian being on everyone’s most-wanted list, there are still the typical high school clichés. There’s the Mean Girl clique, which Anne immediately brands as skanks, even though she’s seen them for half a second.

Anne is apparently loved by everyone. She’s such a special cookie everyone wants a piece of her. Even though she manages to judge everyone in one single second. While the book is supposed to be about this mystery surrounding the island and its inhabitants, we spend most of the time reading about anything but the mystery. Heck, there’s even a dance-off. This book is one cliché on top of another cliché wrapped in a cloak of clichéness. Did I mention that there’s a love triangle as well? Yeah…It’s that bad.

I’m giving it two starts because the mystery somewhat redeemed the second half of the book, and because I didn’t figure it out right away, so that part of the book was entertaining. If Anne had been less of a Mary Sue character, I might’ve been able to look past the writing, the cliché cliques at school, and everything else, but Anne pretty much ruined things for me. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant had potential, but failed to deliver.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting... But, mostly during the second half... 20 Jan 2014
By Erin - Published on
The publisher gave me a copy of this book to read and review (from NetGalley). This has, in no way, altered my opinion of the book and what is written below is a 100% honest review.

I very much disliked this book when I started it. I only kept reading because I had heard that there was a delicious plot twist… and I’m a total sucker for a good plot twist. To Joanna Wiebe’s credit, the plot twist was amazing and I definitely did not see it coming… AT ALL.

The main protagonist was annoying the first half of the book. She was whiny (yes, I understand that she is stuck on a weird island with a bunch of rich kids) and she’s way too judgmental of everything around her. I found that I sided with the popular girls over her at times just because she immediately judged everything and everyone based on their exterior appearance and I just wanted to smack Anne Merchant for the first half of the novel. She was a brat! For example, one of the lines in the book described a random headmaster who had done nothing to Anne Merchant to warrant her cold, judgmental words.

"A prerequisite to work at Cania must be that you are the ugliest son of a b**ch alive."

AND, here’s another example:

"She’s so pretty, I have a hard time believing she works alongside fuglies like the secretaries, Teddy, and Villicus."

Like, seriously. Shut up, Anne Merchant. Please.

That being said, her narrative voice improved throughout the book. I found myself liking her and sympathizing with her during the second half. I loved the character of Ben and his protective nature. During the last half, I had no idea what was going to happen next… it was all twists and turns… a wild ride!

I found a lot of loopholes in the plot, though, regarding the two worlds Anne balances. Some parts were genuinely confusing and I really wish the author had thought them out a bit more and addressed the questions swirling in my head! I enjoyed the novel and am glad that I stuck it out and finished it.

It ends hinting at a sequel. After just finishing it, I don’t know if I’d read the second one yet. I’m undecided.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars refusing to accept the easy answer when her intuition tells her there's another one 14 July 2014
By Ellen @ The Canon - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Originally posted on The Canon! {[...]}

There's something about that creepy, gothic atmosphere that always gets to me. The mystery, the mystic, of a secret calls to me from the beginning of such a book, and then, well, I've GOT to read it. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe called to me from my Netgalley screen.

Anne Merchant is the type of heroine I adore. She doesn't take anything for granted, refusing to accept the easy answer when her intuition tells her there's another one, hidden deeper. Her artistic nature forces her to question what her eyes see, making for a very analytical heroine to explore the strangest school I've ever heard of.

Anne is somewhat of a sympathetic character right off the bat: she's in an unfamiliar place with pieces of her memory missing, trying to regain her ground after her mother's suicide. I did feel a connection with her as the book began, but as the story unfolded, it started to fluctuate.

Why did it fluctuate? Ah, good question. Everyone at Cania Christy fell into a bit of a stereotype. There were the requisite "mean girls" (Harper and company). The "nice girl," "the joker" (Pilot), the "emo kid" (there are two, actually), the "older, good-looking guy" (Ben), and the "evil master" (Villicus). Simply, I got a too little distracted by the characterizations to focus on Anne herself.

The world-building in Cania Christy, however, was fantastic. I loved that creepy feeling that crept along my spine as I followed Anne through Cania Christy. The reactions of the villagers, the strange red line, and the role of Anne's Guardian, Teddy all contributed to one of the most interesting fantasy/contemporary worlds I've read this year.

I have a bit of gripe with the plot. First, I adored the crazy scenes in the end (I don't think I've ever pressed "Next Page" on my Kindle so quickly), but the early scenes in the school drove me a little batty. Anne was the kid who wasn't in on the secret and the constant aloof hints and strange references drove me (and her) a little batty. For a while, this attitude contributed to the uncanny motif that ran throughout The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, but when it continued past the halfway point, it felt like overkill.

Past the halfway point, I loved the revelation of the secrets, the characters' revelations of their true natures, the strange journey Anne takes, and the major plot twists. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant was an original novel and one that I liked. I hope the second installment makes me fall in love.

- good heroine
- loved the world-building
- pacing was off in a few places
- characterizations were a little too stereotypical

YA fantasy and paranormal lovers
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky and Unputdownable!!!! 18 Jan 2014
By Sabrina - Published on
Short and Sweet:

An incredible, non-stop, thoroughly creepy story that will keep you guessing until the last startling revelation! The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is a one of a kind, original debut that I didn't see coming!

To Elaborate....

The most important thing that I can say about this book is that nothing is what it seems; even the story itself. I am drawn to the 'creepy boarding school' stories fairly often. However, The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant stands apart from its peers in the most refreshing way. The plot is not predictable. Not even a little.

The story begins with Anne contemplating her 'fresh start' at Cania Christy. She's hoping to leave the ugliness of her mother's death behind her, graduate as valedictorian and have a beautiful life. Right from the start it becomes clear those dreams will be difficult to achieve. Her classmates already seem to know everything about her. In fact, everyone seems to be in on some sort of secret. A secret no one seems willing to share.

Meanwhile, Anne tries to adhere to the schools insane rules: no phone, no internet, no technology while meeting her assigned PT, or prosperitas thema, to 'look closer.' Every student on the island has one. The PTs are assigned by a guardian and it is the way in which each student pledges to be successful in his or her life. It is also the only way to graduate on top: excelling at your PT. Most PTs are more scandalous than Anne's, but the students at Cania Christy will do whatever it takes to impress their guardians and become valedictorian. The level of ambition borders on desperation and Anne is left to ponder: what exactly does being valedictorian mean at Cania Chrisy?

I wish I could say more, but the most exciting aspect of The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is in the 'not knowing' and alternatively in the 'finding out.' The conclusion of this book is so stunning and terrifying that Ms. Joanna Wiebe's next book will stay high on my most anticipated list until the day I get my hands on it! Incredibly addicting and unputdownable!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Had some weird moments but worth the read 30 Jan 2014
By A Reading Nurse - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I have to admit that there were points in this book that I just wanted to but it down. The first chapter started off with the main character Anne talking about the differences between rich and poor, and there was just somthing about this dialogue that was kind of detering me from reading this book. But except for specific series that I shall not mention, I have never not read a book completely through so I just kept on reading. And I am glad I did, because the main premise of this story was actually really enjoyable and intriguing!

The first thing that caught my attention about this story was the race to become Valedvictorian. Anne has always wanted to be top of her class, being poor it is the only way for her to get to the university of her dreams. But at Cania Christy the students treated the race for Valedictorian like tributes fighting in the Hunger Games. Anne meets two different boys on her first day there. Ben who is the richest guy on campus and the most unattainable. There are times where he is flat out rude to Anne. Then there is Pilot, the only one on campus who is against the race for the "BIG V" Pilot seems to be the only one is kind to Anne and does not resent the fact that she is there. Anne will will want one of them while the other will the one to want Anne. But both guys are quite not what them seem to be.

A lot of strange and mysterious things start occurring and Anne is determined to get to the bottom of everything. Everyone is not like what they seem and some will not have her best interests in heart. Anne must find out the truth behind the mysteries of the school and what the race for the "BIG V" is all about.

The twist and turns in this book were what kept me going. Just as I had thought I had guessed the premise of the book, something else was revealed that completely threw me. There were some aspects that I just plain did not like about the story. There is not specific scene which involves a dance fued that I just thought was childish and unnecessary and had me skimming through it. But the overall story kept me intrigued and I will most likely pick up the next book in the series to see where he story leads.
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