Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Emerald City by J.A. Beard

In this loose re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz, Kansas teen Gail Dorjee has tried to escape from the pain of her parents' death by retreating into a hard shell of anger and sarcasm.

When her aunt and uncle ship her off to an elite Seattle boarding school, Osland Academy, she spends her first day making enemies, including the school's most powerful clique, the Winged, and their leader, the ruthless Diana.

Social war and the school's uptight teachers are only mild annoyances. Mysterious phone outages, bizarre behavioral blocks, and strange incidents suggest Osland is focused on something much more sinister than education.

Now Gail has to survive at Osland with a pretty pathetic assortment of potential allies: her airhead roommate, a cowardly victim of the Winged, and Diana's cold but handsome boyfriend, Nick.

The first book series that introduced me to the amazing world of fantasy was the Wizard of Oz series by Frank Baum. So, when I saw this in my email, I jumped at the chance to read it. I loved the author's re imagination of the classic story, the old characters were easily picked out. I really enjoyed reading this book, it a was new and different take on an old story.
Gail is edgy, which I loved, I'm so sick of all the Dorothy character's being helpless. I like my main character to have fire, and she totally did. She reacted way better than I would have to being dumped in a boarding school where she knew no one. I loved that the popular clique at school was called the Winged, they were everyone you went to high school with lol.
J.A. Beard kept me guessing until the end, just when I thought I had everyone figured out, he would throw a curve ball at me. Great job! I look forward to reading  more from him in the future.

Here's an excerpt from the book......enjoy:)

A “network not found” message greeted me when I flipped open my phone. Annoying, sure, but I really didn’t want to talk to my uncle. I doubted he would care anyway. His insolent niece, now thousands of miles away in a different state, wasn’t in his hair now.
“Oh, those don’t work here,” Lydia said. “There’s a phone in the common room in the dorm, but it’s broken right now. Miss Norris said they’ll get it fixed soon. If you need to make a call, maybe you could go to the administrative office.”
“What’re you talking about? How can cell phones not work here?” Outside, in the middle of a major city, there was no way I shouldn’t have been able to get a signal.
She scrunched her forehead. “Well, Miss Norris said it has something to do with metals in the ground. But there’s a rumor a hundred years ago some Indians killed these striking union guys, so now the union guys are ghosts and haunt the school blocking cell phones.” She sighed. “Not Indians. I mean not like Leandra. I mean Native Americans.”
I stared at her. How could I even respond to something like that? I didn’t care that much about political correctness, but cell phone blocking ghosts bordered on crazy.
After a few seconds of thinking of a ghost dodge, I said, “Miss Norris? That’s the dorm manager, right? I remember my uncle mentioning her.”
He loved reminding me if I got in trouble, Miss Norris and the security guards would make sure I wouldn’t leave campus. That’s what sucks about a boarding school, or Osland at least. I was trapped and couldn’t escape at night even if I wasn’t in trouble. Just like prison. Yeah, a prison complete with a gang who called themselves the Winged. They were even led by a sociopath. Perfect.
Excerpt 2:
The sound of shattering glass filled the air. I spun around. Miss Higashi’s glass was strewn across her desk, broken into dozens of shards. Her blouse was soaked and her face contorted in rage. She lifted her gaze from the remains of the glass and glared at me. Okay, now that was unexpected.
I put up both of my hands up in front of me. “You can’t blame me for some weird accident.” If Higashi tripped, would she blame that on me too?
“I see. It makes more sense now.” Miss Higashi sprang to her feet. “Get out. I’m through with you for today, Miss Dorjee. If you’re involved in anymore incidents, you’ll be very, very sorry.”
Startled, I spun back around and hurried out of the office. I slammed the door behind me and took several deep breaths. What the heck was going on? The cell phones were easy enough to explain but the fountain and the glass? Was someone messing with me? Glasses didn’t shatter on their own.
I walked down the hallway as various bizarre scenarios passed through my mind. Diana and her cold boyfriend might have set me up somehow. It would be easy to anger a tightly wound teacher like Miss Higashi and make my life even more miserable than it’d be at the hands of the Winged. I didn’t know. That was a lot of effort to mess with one new transfer student, but Diana probably wasn’t used to someone being so defiant.
A sudden realization smashed into my mind. Diana wouldn’t soak and humiliate herself in front of Leandra. Someone might be setting up both of us.

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  1. Awesome review! Thank you for hosting J.A. today :). Glad you enjoyed the story! :)