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The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant:…

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant: Book One of the V Trilogy

by Joanna Wiebe

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You don't have to necessarily like a character to enjoy reading a book. But if you don't enjoy reading about the main characters, then it will be a chore to get through the book. Getting through Anne Merchant was more like a chore and a half. Not only did I not enjoy reading about Anne and the other characters, I actually hated them to the point where they elicited rather strong feelings of anger and frustration at times. Or rather, I hated Wiebe's characterizations. Instead of seeing them as actual people, I saw Wiebe's characters more as shallow caricatures full of the worst cliches and stereotypes. Sometimes, it worked. Villicus, the headmaster of Cania Christy is sufficiently creepy and disgusting enough to play the villain with his arched eyebrows, hairy mole, and crooked brown teeth. Most of the time, the cliches and stereotypes can only go so far in creating believable, complex characters.

I also felt extremely uncomfortable with how the author painted a group of girls in the story who practically embody the oversexualized, "catty" mean girl stereotype. Maybe it's because my high school days are long gone, but I found that the typical high school tropes just don't do it for me anymore. Sure, mean girls and bullies undoubtedly exist in a real high school setting, but Anne's hatred of Harper and her clique bordered on irrational. The thing that probably turned me the most off from the books were all the sexist insults Anne used to talk about Harper and her friends including, "over-the-top sleazy" (60), "coke-snorting vixen" (115), "little hussy" (121), and my personal favorite - heavy sarcasm here - "skanky cows" (117). Also note that these were in the first 27% of the book. I dread to know what other insults Anne might have come up with in the rest of the book. I really don't know how I'm supposed to root for Anne when she evidently had a personality as bad as, if not worse than, the other girls she wanted us so badly to hate. ( )
  bookcharms | Dec 6, 2016 |
There is only one thing in this world that money can’t buy and that is immortality. It might buy your morals, talent, gold digging wife, car, house, and shallow friends. However, when the money runs out you have nothing to show. The old saying that money can’t buy happiness or love is not necessarily true; people are temporarily happy for a time. It just depends on how a person views the world around them. Some view money as the door to the devil, while others view it as a means to creation. This book is about a group of desperate parents that believe in the creation of miracles, but are willing to make a deal with the devil. Anne Merchant is a girl that finds herself attending an exclusive boarding school for the insanely wealthy, after the sudden death of her mother. Not understanding why her father would have her attend a school so far away from him, she finds herself feeling isolated and frustrated. As the days quickly progress she soon learns the complicated rules that she is expected to follow; in order to compete for the idolized ‘Big V’ position. Will Anne discover why the ‘Big V’ position is so coveted? Will she ever get to see her father again?

I enjoyed this book very much and found it to be rather different from what I normally read in the YA suspense genre. I thought it very new and unique. I loved the concept and thought the author was very creative! I enjoyed how she brought something new to the table. It seems like there has been a lot of redundancy in the YA books lately and this book was a breath of fresh air. I appreciate her books and am looking forward to reading the next installment. ( )
  Jennifer35k | Apr 24, 2015 |
The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe
Book #1: The V Trilogy
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Review:

Well, well, well. Wasn’t this little read full of all kinds of surprises, twists and turns?

Anne Merchant was generally happy in her life. Sure, she was the weird girl, the daughter of the mortician but she was top of her class and looking to make a run for a college scholarship and then one day, her dad quite unexpectedly ships her off to Cania Christy.

Cania Christy is an ultra-exclusive boarding school that is home to a select number of students. Every student at Cania Christy have a few things in common, they are ultra-rich, ultra-snobby and, none are happy to see the new girl on campus. Anne can’t begin to conceive of why her father sent her to Cania Christy and more confounding is how he is affording the tuition and why Anne is separated from the rest of the student body. While every other student at Cania Christy lives in the dorms, Anne is segregated and lives with a local in her home. While we’re talking about crazy, Anne’s first day on campus finds her in the head master’s office, being assigned a personal guardian and, encountering two boys who are totally intriguing.

From the moment Anne enters Cania Christy everything is confounding. Every student seems to hate every other student, there are actual plots to derail students from achieving their goals, there is little to no contact allowed with the outside world and, the competition for Valedictorian is unlike anything Anne has ever experienced. These students are downright crazy and though she understands the need to do well and achieve her goals, Anne just can’t figure out why everyone around her is driven to the point of madness. In most situations, a girl such as Anne would look outside the confines of school to make new friends but upon her arrival she was told there should never, ever be any mixing of the students with the local population. Seriously, there is quite literally a large red line across the island that the Cania kids are not allowed to cross. Yep, this is one weird school!

Because she is segregated from the rest of the student body, Anne does cross the red line and makes friends with a local girl though she is warned that their relationship can never, ever become known. Additionally, Anne takes any moments alone she can find to explore the island and what she finds is just as unbelievable as the behavior of the students on campus. Between the weird ceremonies held by the locals, the totally unexplainable nighttime actions of the head master and, the activities taking place in the one house Anne can see, it all becomes quite overwhelming. Anne is very much like a dog with a bone and as the crazy begins to pile up around her, she becomes more and more determined to discover the secrets that permeate her new school. Knowing who to trust at Cania Christy is a very risky business and betrayal is always on the menu. The deeper Anne gets into the mysteries surrounding her the more she realizes that the truth will not in any way, shape or form set her free. In fact, the knowing the truth just may end her life.

The Bottom Line: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant is one weird read from start to finish and I loved it!!! From the moment she arrives at Cania Christy, Anne knows there is something wonky but she can’t put her finger on exactly what it is. This is no normal high school and as Anne begins to pull the pieces together what she discovers is just outrageously stunning. I was so sucked into this story and what the hell was happening that I just didn’t see the big reveal coming. Additionally, Wiebe does an excellent job of crafting characters that are totally convincing. I hated and liked exactly who she wanted me too and then got thrown ass over teakettle by the discovery that no one is who they seem to be at Cania Christy. To top it all off, I blazed my way to the end of the read only to be left with a cliffhanger that had me angry and totally surprised. Thankfully, I came across this book late enough that the second installment of the trilogy is already available!! Onward and upward . . . . . ( )
  arthistorychick | Feb 7, 2015 |
Warning: Ranting and raging ahead. The review might not probably won't make sense. We're talking f-bombs and rage-GIFs. Enter at your own risk.

**Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an ARC**

Once again, I should have listened and stayed far, far away from this book.

All the slut shaming! The plot holes! Inconsistencies! The painful internal monologue of a prejudicial MC who can randomly tell where someone is from just by looking at them! A love interest so boring he could put insomniacs to sleep! A bare attempt at a love triangle that made me grit my teeth until my molars split! The horror!

The more I think about it, the worse it gets, so I'm going to explain this in the easiest way possible.

You're at the store and thinking, "Hey, man, I really want to watch a horror." So you trawl down the DVD aisle until you get to the horror section. A pretty (or gory, it's horror after all) cover catches your eye. You pick it up and stare into the monster's one seeing eye. You flip it over and read the back.

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.

What's this?! Mystery? Unanswered questions? Paranormal activity? ROMANCE? ONLY £7?! It's everything you LOVE in a horror and you don't think twice about popping it into your trolley.

You go home. Carefully peel off the plastic (or tear it off. I love tearing it off like it's no one's business). Gently place it in the DVD player. Press Play. Sit back and relax.

Immediately, you think, "This sucks already." Just by the way the titles roll across the screen. Just by the way the MC looks up at the camera (or whatever, the window, the door, I don't care). Immediately, you think, "B-List movie that never made it to the big screen."

And we all know B-List movies that never made it to the screen SUCK.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant promised all of the above (minus horror, although it tried hard to be scary) and more. Instead of all those things I adore, I got:

-Slut-shaming to the nth degree.

These uniforms are head-turning without modifications, yet she's replaced her white shirt with a super-low v-neck tank, "forgotten" her tights, and hiked her skirt up wicked high. (I should not know she wears a red thong, and yet I do.) Sure, she has sleek hair, a cool Balenciaga blazer, and accessories that would make Rachel Zoe look like a pauper, but nothing can mask the truth: she's over-the-top sleazy.

Why is she sleazy? Because she has a nice body and you're jealous, because you're "plain", "frumpy" and a have a "blond afro"? That makes someone sleazy? And how the fuck do you know she's wearing a red thong when she's sat down? Are you intentionally craning your neck and looking up her skirt?

And if Harper doesn't like me, fuck her, too. And Plum. And the whole Model UN from Hell with their big, nasty boobs and obvious desperation.

And yet you were boasting about how your boobs had tripled in size overnight. Why are theirs "big and nasty"? Because they accepted their body and love it and you don't?

We both turn and watch them. Their matching red bras busting out of their cleavage. Their sex-kitten hair. Every day, they replace their standard-issue boots with whatever ultra-expensive, ultra-hooker shoes they have.

I'm sick and tired of seeing characters who are obviously not okay with their bodies slut-shaming other girls because they love their bodies. It's the wrong message to pass on to impressionable teens. Why shouldn't someone adore their appearance and use it? Anne Merchant is constantly slut-shaming to hide her own imperfections: "a crooked tooth and wild, blond hair". Oh god, the horror! Why is that supposed to be embarrassing? Good God almighty.

To follow the constant slut-shaming, you have creepy-ass teachers that constantly sleaze on the students. Also a LOVELY message to pass on: sleep with a teacher to get awesome grades! Promote rape-culture because you're a horny old man and every man OBVIOUSLY has a uniform, schoolgirl fetish, right? Right?!

"I'll be sure to thank him."
"And I'm sure I know how you'll thank him." Like perched black crows taking flight, Villicus's eyes narrow in the cloud-like gray of his face. "You'll thank him as all girls with your background thank men, especially men of affluence. And I do believe such appreciation will suit his tastes just fine, nubile fraulein like you."

It's a red-haired girl and a man; the soft moonlight glints off his bare chest, a chest I recognize because, just this morning, I drew it in class. My stomach drops to my feet as I gape at them. [...] No sooner have I said his name than he looks up from the redhead on her knees and locks his gaze on mine.

"I could rate you very favourably," he says, his soft voice sending shivers up my spin, "if you could be so obliging." Then he lowers his hands to his pants and undoes his top button.
My mouth drops open, but not in the way he wants it to. "You're disgusting."
"I'm your meal ticket."

And do you know what? It fucks me off that Anne Merchant is constantly bitching about her looks and slut-shaming girls when she's no saint herself, and loves the attention she gets from these sleazebags.

Apparently, Anne can also tell where someone is from just by looking at them. Constantly, places are used to describe people. A Thai girl, a Mexican boy, a French boy (obviously French because he has a moustache. Fuck off), a Mandarin girl (what? What? Mandarin girl? Isn't that a LANGUAGE?!). Her descriptions also go as far as stating:

Her voice sounds like a piano that's been played too long without tuning.

What does that even mean?

The whole book is "cloaked in mystery" that is so obvious, it's laughable. There are stupid, yet simple, rules to follow that Anne breaks each. And. Every. One. Because it's so hard to keep your head down and go about your business, when you're at a prestigious school that costs an arm and a leg to get into? (And that's not even an exaggeration).

"To begin, there is absolutely no fraternizing with the villagers," Teddy says.

And what does Anne do? Becomes BFFs with the village's only teenager, causing a whole world of trouble.

It made me so mad just to see how careless Anne is with something that is obviously so important.

It's a big, nasty race to the "Big V" or becoming a valedictorian, in normal people's language. People will do absolutely anything to win, and Anne doesn't know why because of all the "unanswered questions" that are so fucking obvious. I mean, come on, think about it. THINK about it, and the answer will present itself to you, but Anne doesn't think. She bitches, she moans, she cries, and swoons over a love interest that is neither a love or interesting.

She meets him once, and immediately...

The silence is excruciating. It's affecting my appetite. It's making me toss and turn at night. And the worst thing? Knowing that this silence means nothing to him. Knowing he doesn't even notice it, that he's too busy with his beautiful blonde girlfriend to see.

Actually, the whole romance is an absolute joke. She's torn between the unattainable senior (there's your answer right there, idiot!) and "the disappointing son of a would-be president". Anne, darling, you'd be lucky to get with a tortoise with the way you're acting, you ungrateful little shit.

As the book progressed, I found myself more and more enraged with just how badly things unfolded, and how unlikeable Anne was. If she died, I could not have given two flying --

Oh, never mind.

There is a thread of plot, horrible characters I wanted to smack in the face with a bag of bricks, ridICULOUS explanations to things and an even WORST attempt at making it mysterious by adding lines like:

"I'm not going to explain this place to you. You act like you're in some regular old high school. But you're not. Are you really that dense?"

Yes. Yes, she is.

And when you finally get to the big revelation, when things are finally supposed to make sense and fall into place, they don't. They fuck the entire book up even more. I like a good mystery, but this isn't a mystery. This is the result of a child left to play with macaroni and glue. It's a fucking mess.

What a damn shame. Goodbye, Anne, you useless little shit.
( )
  Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
"I ended up enjoying this despite its flagrant flaws."
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2014/10/unseemly-education-of-anne-merchant.h... ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Nov 1, 2014 |
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From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the wealthiest teens, she has questions that remain unanswered, including why everything is a competition to be valedictorian and what mysterious reward comes with that title.… (more)

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