Title: Sea Breeze Academy
Author: Bryant A. Loney
Genre: YA Contemporary/ mystery
Publisher: Verona Booksellers
Publication date: June 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A group of boarding school teens in season five of a Cali-based sitcom begin to realize they are in a TV show.
A missing student, or maybe several.
Embedded marketing, sushi, token friends, and cacti.
The sound of the Pacific waves in the background.
Smothering darkness. The threat of Alaska.
Another perfect, perfect day.
Happiness lives here.
Brooklyn, Matthew, and the gang are ready to rock their last few weeks of junior year at their elite boarding school on the California coast. But something is amiss. In the fifth and potentially last season of this award-winning television series, the struggle between truth and network censorship just might destroy their bond once and for all. Can they survive another season of love, mystery, and adolescent angst on the sunny West Coast? Will life ever be normal again?
Experimental and subversive, Sea Breeze Academy is a smart love letter to the Nickelodeon and Disney Channel sitcoms you grew up with. Are you ready?
Thank you to Verona book sellers for providing me with an e-copy of this book along with promotional pictures in exchange for my honest review.
I do not even know where to start with this review. I apologize in advance if this review does not flow or is confusing. But my brain is just a little confused by this book right now.
So, this book was pitched to me and is depicted in the synopsis has a love letter and or spoof of the teen TV shows we all know and probably loved at some point growing up. This and the stunning cover were enough to pique my interest! The first couple of chapters seemed to be exactly what I was expecting and reminded me of a mix of shows like Hanna Montanan and The OC. The book being written in mostly script format also helped set this feeling and scene up. E.g. I felt like I was reading the TV show instead of watching it. Even though the script format took a little getting used to, it also made it possible to read this book very quickly! Which was a great change for a usually slow reader like me. There was drama, romance, elite California school, fashion…all that juicy teen stuff. I was beginning to think this was going to be a light, cheesy read, making fun of the TV shows I grew up with.
Boy was I wrong! After the first few chapters things took a really weird turn! At first, I thought it was just the “something is amiss” part of the synopsis starting to play out. And I guess in a way it was? However, it was done in such a way that for the majority of the book I was sat thinking to myself what is going on??!! So, instead of really enjoying the story I was stuck wondering what the premises of the story actually was. Was I not just reading a TV Show occurring? Was it more a Spoof of reality shows like The Hills and trying to hint they are scripted? Or was it supposed to be some hidden camera thing like Big Brother? Or were the characters of the TV show becoming self-aware? I really could not work it out and I am still not 100% sure! This made me struggle to get through most of the story and I was frustrated that I couldn’t work out what was going on.
Things also seemed to take on a much more serious note in the second half and end of the book. With loads of life lessons and messages being woven into the story. About the pressure of trying to be perfect and losing oneself in the attempt of trying to please everyone. Depression, anxiety and eating disorders are all mentioned. Media propagation, political correctness and in your face advertising are all part of the story as well. And While I know and understand that these lessons and topics etc are important and should be represent in YA fiction. I just thought it was too much all at once. And with the confusing nature of the trajectory of the plot line I just don’t think it had the desired effect.
The ending of the book was one of the most confusing aspects for me. I just feel like there was no real resolution. I have no clue what happened to one of the MC’s and what was going to happen to the others. Half of the character interactions just made no sense to me! I just was left feeling like “what? That is what all the strangeness was building to? I don’t get it!!”
In conclusion although I was hoping to really like this book in the end it just left me a confused mess. I love the cover and the uniqueness of the script format. I even really enjoyed the first few “chapters’. However, I thought majority of the story was simply confusing. Too many life lessons/ concepts were trying to be displayed and it all seemed to amount to nothing. Or at least I myself did not really feel that wow it all makes sense now moment. Therefore, I have given this book 2/5 stars. Have you read this book? Have you ever read a book in script format and did you enjoy it? What was your favourite teen TV show? Chat with me in the comments below! As always happy watching and reading!