Author: Eva Gray
Publication: Scholastic Paperbacks (May 1, 2011)
Description: In a terrifying future world, four girls must depend on each other if they want to survive.
Louisa is nervous about being sent away to a boarding school -- but she’s excited, too. And she has her best friend, Maddie, to keep her company. The girls have to pretend to be twin sisters, which Louisa thinks just adds to the adventure!
Country Manor School isn’t all excitement, though. Louisa isn’t sure how she feels about her new roommates: athletic but snobby Rosie and everything’s-a-conspiracy Evelyn. Even Maddie seems different away from home, quiet and worried all the time.
Still, Louisa loves CMS -- the survival skills classes, the fresh air. She doesn’t even miss not having a TV, or the internet, or any contact with home. It’s for their own safety, after all.
Or is it?
My Thoughts: In this future the United States is at war with the Alliance. Louisa is a young girl living in Chicago with her physician parents when they decided to send her away to school for safety. Her best friend Maddie goes along as her parents are off fighting the war and she has been living with Luisa's family. They somehow manage to change her ID so that she now registers as Louisa's twin sister. The girls and a bunch of others ride for a long time in buses to get to an isolated location. Once they arrive they are forced to surrender all of their electronics and their ID bracelets, which are never supposed to be removed, are cut off their wrists. The teachers assure the girls that this is done for their safety.
Louisa and Maddie share a suite with Evelyn who is sure that everything the teachers do is part of some vast conspiracy and Rosie who is athletic but snobby. Rosie is a hard character to understand. Sometimes she is friendly to Louisa and other times she does very mean things.
Louisa adjusts well to the school. She likes the emphasis on physical things and survival skills rather than academics. She would rather be an Olympic swimmer, if the Olympics existed anymore, than a doctor like her parents. Maddie doesn't adjust as well. She is concerned that the teachers tell the girls that they will be the leaders of the new world.
This story was set-up for the series and spends a lot of time setting the scene. We don't find out very much about the Alliance except that they have taken over large chunks of Canada and are poised to take over the US. The girls spend most of the story in an isolated environment. There were adventures, especially when the girls go on their over-night survival hike and meet up with some boys from the boys' school across the lake.
I recommend this story to middle graders who are interested in dystopias, school stories, and survival stories.
Now the swelling wave of grumbling protest is even louder. Mrs. Brewster claps again, sharply, and everyone quiets. "Must I remind you girls that the United States is at war? Your parents have paid their hard-earned money to send you to a safe place, away from the threats of the Alliance. Country Manor School has given your families our pledge to provide you with the finest education while assuring your safety at all costs."I received this ARC for review from Scholastic. It is available as a paperback and ebook at Amazon.