Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Academy (The Central, #1)

The Academy (The Central, #1)The Academy by Zachary Rawlins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

For a debut, self-published author, Zachary Rawlins is pretty damn good. In fact, he’s better than a lot of experienced authors with big publishing houses behind their backs. With just a little more work and a good editor, this book could turn into pure gold.

Rawlins’s world is very complicated. Here’s my attempt at explaining some of it:
The secret supernatural community known as the Central is divided into cartels, of which only two are important: the Hegemony and the Black Sun. In theory, students of the Academy aren’t allowed to declare for a cartel until they complete their second year (unless they were born into one - which is rare), but in reality, they often choose their way much sooner.

Most of the students come from normal families. The Central does secret screenings at public schools and singles out everyone with the ability to control the Ether. But the Talent itself isn’t enough, so upon their arrival at the Academy, they need to have nanites introduced into their system. The nanites allow them to use their abilities, but they also make them stronger, faster and very close to immortal. Not all students have the same power: there are empaths, telepaths, pyros, and just about everything else you can think of.

After the Academy, students become Operators in the cartel that chose them, depending on their ability, but the very best usually opt to become Auditors, who are supposed to be neutral and in charge of keeping the cartels in order.

So that's pretty much it. It's not an easy world to explain.

However, worldbuilding isn’t what I loved most about The Academy, the characters are. I’ll mention just a few of them:
• Alex Warner has just arrived at the Academy, but he is by far the most powerful of them all. All the cartels want him, but as soon as he picks one, the others will do their very best to kill him.
• Mitsuru is a hundred years old, but she looks no more than nineteen – that is, until you notice her red eyes. She is a Black Protocol user and her mind had been reengineered as a logic processing engine, allowing her to become a field strategist, but making her more machine than human in the process. She has no emotional attachments. Probability fields and bloodbaths are all she cares about.
• Alice Gallow is an Auditor and a Black Protocol user who forgets things every time she uses her powers. She is close to invincible, but she spends all her free time writing and reading hundreds and hundreds of diaries. She is also a bloodthirsty psychopath.
• Anastasia Martynova is the scion of the Black Sun cartel. Introducing nanites into her organism stopped her growth completely. She looks no more than thirteen, wears a lot of black lace and never leaves her room without a parasol, which usually makes people underestimate her, but she is a power player, perhaps the most deadly one around.

I’ll be the first to admit that you need a certain amount of patience to read The Academy. For one, it is far too long: if printed, I'm sure it would have more than 500 pages, which means that there are quite a few unnecessary chapters you need to go through to get to the good ones, but since the good ones really are jaw-dropping, I think it’s well worth it.

My other problem was with parts that reminded me to much of a well known movie trilogy. I’ll just give you a short example and let you draw your own conclusions:
The rifle was firing at full auto, but the acceleration of Mitsuru’s protocol was such that she heard each individual shot, and she saw the flare of hot gas that punctuated each shell’s ignition. She fell forward, under the arc of bullets that plodded toward her, and then rolled, her perception so agonizingly acute she could see the wake of distorted air the bullets left behind.

In my opinion, The Academy is not a YA novel. The fact that most of it happens in a school can be quite misleading. It is very violent, far too complicated and it doesn’t follow any of the usual patterns.

You can buy The Academy ebook for $0.99 or $2.99 on Amazon, depending on your location. If you like violent, unpredictable, action-packed stories, you’ll probably enjoy it.

The second book, The Anathema, also became available TODAY, for the same price. Now please excuse me while I go devour it in one night or less.


  1. Okay, Maja, why haven't you told me about this book before? I WANT it now! :D This sounds absolutely amazing. Your review is brilliant.

  2. I haven't ever heard of this book and despite it sounding a bit long, I would still like to give it a chance!


  3. Wow this does sound complicated but I often find those make the best worlds! I haven't heard of this before but it's on my radar now!

    Oh and I'll grab your button too I was sure I had it already but I don't. I'm so bad on putting buttons on my blogroll O_O haha I'll do it in a few minutes though promise! :D

  4. Great review Maja!Sometimes complicated gives me a rush so I think I will ck this one out.

  5. I read a book in the YA category too that was for me for adults. The world sounds interesting, thanks for the discovery I didn't know this one.

  6. Sam, I reviewed it on GoodReads a while back, I guess before we were friends, but I decied to repost now because book 2 just came out. I'm reading it now and liking it even better than book this one.

    Definitely check this one out, lovely ladies!

  7. Secret supernatural community? Oooohhh, colour me intrigued!! :) I don't know why I've never heard of this book before! I don't know why, but I LOVE reading about books that take place in some sort of supernatural community, and this book sounds like the perfect book I would love! Although 500 pages and lots of violence DOES make it sound like something bigger than YA haha! x)

    Amazing review, Maja! Thank you so much for putting this on my radar -- it sounds great! :) <3

  8. I'd say this one sounds like a hidden gem! I don't think I'd even notice the world building since the characters are so well developed. They all sound interesting.

  9. Hmm...I've already read two good self-published novels this year (Demons at Deadnight an Angelfall), so I'm trying to give self-published authors more of a chance, especially since there's such a stigma associated with the way they publish. At the same time though, I'm not sure if this book would be for me. Maybe I'll check out the preview?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  10. Amazing review Maja. :) I sounds a bit dark. I love that we're getting such amazing stories from self-pub authors.

    You didn't post this on Goodreads. I noticed Lisa didn't post her Hallowed review over there either. Was there a reason?

  11. I remember getting really excited about this book when you first mentioned it. Why do you always get me so pumped up about books? Maybe I should just stop talking to you.

  12. I did, Rachel, but much earlier. Same goes for Lisa and Hallowed. I just decided to repost this now because book two just came out and I wanted to bring some attention to the series while I'm reading it.

    You try it, Flann. I dare you. You'd go ten days without talking to me and you'd miss me terribly, just like I miss you when I don't hear from you.

  13. Gotta love this concept. Then again, I'm in for paranormal almost on a yes/yes basis, so... Still, I like that this story is complicated, violent, and that the characters are solid.

    Okay, the violent part came out wrong. I meant as in, not sugar-coated :)

    The one thing that keeps me back is the comment that it needs some editing, that some chapters are not necesary, and that it's so long. (Yes, that is just one thing because everything is related). Still, I think I'm going to keep an eye out and give this a shot when I have time, for between lighter, shorter reads.

    Thanks for sharing, Maja!

    Ron @ Stories of my life

  14. I love the sound of this! Great review!

  15. I saw this review the other day and you hooked me :) Just wanted you to know that I got the sample, and then purchased both books in short order. Excellent story telling. Like you said, the characters are really complex and vivid. Now I'm just sad I have to wait another year before the 3rd book in the series comes out.

  16. Thanks so much for coming back to tell me, Dean. I loved reading both of these books and it makes me really happy when someone else ends up loving them too.
    And yes, waiting another year sucks, but at least there'll be a novella sometime this year.
    Also, do stop by for a guest post by the author in a week or so.
    Thanks again for dropping by.

  17. Maja,

    It sounds like he's making good progress on The Far Shores! What would you recommend for someone who liked this series so far? Anything else out there that is just a complete diamond in the rough that you think I'd like?


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