by Will McIntosh
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Pub Date 21 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 8 Jul 2022
BooksGoSocial, Future House Publishing
Thirteen-year-old Benjamin is pulled from his old life and forced to attend a special boarding school in the middle of nowhere. That's confusing enough. Then, he's fed instructions through an earbud and thrown into etiquette classes alongside an angry, spike-covered creature. Despite wearing purple dresses and having the unassuming name of Eve, the creature is horrifying and, as Eve quickly demonstrates, dangerous.
With the help of his new friends Lorena and Persephone, Ben must overcome his own anxieties and uncover the truth about Eve’s origin. But he learns that the school's agenda is much bigger than he ever thought possible. Ben needs to earn Eve’s trust, and fast. The fate of the world depends on it.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I don't often read middle grade, so I'm really pleased when I find one that is a home run. This is a strange and wonderful story about an anxious 13-year-old, Benjamin, who has been sent to a mysterious super-secret boarding school where all the children are constantly fed instructions via earbud as they are led to interact with Eve, an angry, large, definitely-not-human classmate. At school, Benjamin makes real friends for the first time, and as they band together to find out what the adults are up to, they also start to forge a tentative bond with Eve. Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial/Future House Publishing for this digital review copy.
Average rating from 15 members
I don't often read middle grade, so I'm really pleased when I find one that is a home run. This is a strange and wonderful story about an anxious 13-year-old, Benjamin, who has been sent to a mysterious super-secret boarding school where all the children are constantly fed instructions via earbud as they are led to interact with Eve, an angry, large, definitely-not-human classmate. At school, Benjamin makes real friends for the first time, and as they band together to find out what the adults are up to, they also start to forge a tentative bond with Eve. Thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial/Future House Publishing for this digital review copy.
In "The Classmate", Benjamin finds himself put into a new school for 'gifted' children, promising to put him on the fast track to a good college - something he doesn't think is necessary at 13, but his mother has insisted.
When he gets to the school, however, it looks like a prison on the outside, patrolled by armed soldiers, yet with a built-in cinema, fairground, ice cream shop, and any number of amusements. But something doesn't add up, especially when the whole class are given earbuds they're told never to take off, through which unseen adults tell the kids what to do and say.
Things get a little clearer (and more scary) when they head to class and meet their new classmate, Eve - a huge, humanoid creature who can move incredibly fast, has purple skin, and can grow razor sharp spikes when she's angry, scared or upset.
With his new friends, Lorena and Persephone, Benjamin sets out to find out the truth about his strange new school, as well as who - and what - Eve actually is.
The story's told in first person narration through Benjamin's point of view, and the slow reveal of what's actually going on is handled really well. The pacing is good and keeps you engaged, leaving plot breadcrumbs for the reader to follow to the end.
There are serious stakes in the book that provide an element of peril, but this is handled in an age-appropriate way. There is some destruction of property, a few minor injuries, but overall the book is pretty bloodless and violence free.
The characterisation of both kids and adults in the book is done well, though the children are of course given more page time and attention. Eve is also a really interesting character, and you can't help but sympathise with her the more you find out about her story.
Like a lot of middle-grade fiction, The Classmate does have a didactic element to it, but the lessons for young readers are that adults don't have all the answers, that it's good to stand up for yourself and others when you don't agree with something, and that compassion and understanding, especially for those who are different from us, can literally help us change the fate of the world.
This is a short novel, with a satisfying conclusion, that I think would appeal to readers of any age.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC.
This is a very enjoyable read, A mysterious school, a strange classmate..nobody has a clue what is going on….
Ultimately a story of friendship, this is an excellent story, fast paced, and really good fun and short enough to just sit and read in a day.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review
I really enjoyed this middle grade read. It had some funny, tense and heartwarming moments that left me invested in what happened to Benjamin, Eve, and their friends. I would definitely recommend The Classmate to young and old readers alike!
[Thank you Netgalley, the author and publisher for the free eARC]
Far an anxious boy like Benjamin, being shipped off to a top secret boarding school with practically no notice is not the best thing his mother has ever done to him. Luckily, on the bus ride there, Lorena decides they are going to be friends so at least he's not alone.
The school is nothing like he was expecting. It is definitely very suspicious that all these kids have suddenly been sent to this school, even stranger is the curriculum, which really doesn't appear to by the kind of thing the brightest kids of the country would be studying! They soon discover something even stranger about the school...
I really wasn't expecting it, but this book actually made me tear up! I loved the growing friendship between Benjamin and the other kids. While I really wanted to carry on reading and find out what would happen next, I actually loved the ending. The writing was gripping and I hope there will be more from this author.
My daughter enjoyed this book. It kept her interest and she said it was easy to read. She liked the characters.
thanks to NetGalley and Future House Publishing for providing me with an early copy of this wonderfully strange little book!
where do i even start with this? this was a super fun combination of Stranger Things and E.T. and it was such a fun ride that i read it in two sittings! this is one of the better middle grade sci-fi novels ive read for sure.
it starts off as a mysterious, unsettling head-first dive into an off-putting and way too secure boarding school and turns into a wonderful story of friendship, body image, and self-worth that kids of any age with really enjoy. i might recommend this to the kids who’ve read all the goosebumps books and want to move on to something more complex and bigger than those.
this was ridiculously fun and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. highly recommend.
My first thought when this book ended was.,.. Oh that was good... and sort of a happy ending. You can read many things into this book, is Eve just a frightened teen ? A monster ? An experiment ? But anyone who has ever felt different or not able to control their emotions , life and environment would easily understand this tale. Ultimately it is a story of friendship but it is beautifully done. Hope there is a follow up book.
I am a huge fan of Hugo award winning science fiction Will McIntosh who is equally skilled writing for adults as he is kids and young teens. His 2014 novel Defenders is, hands down, one of my favourite ever SF novels and involves (in a roundabout way) the destruction of Earth after an alien invasion. The level of brutality on show in this mesmerising novel tops most horror novels and I cannot recommend this awesome novel highly enough. Burning Midnight (2016) is my favourite of his kids books and it is incredibly popular in my school library with everybody searching for mysterious orbs which give different (and unpredictable) special powers. If you have a reluctant reader who might like a blend of science fiction, fantasy and action Burning Midnight is an essential top tip. In recent years Will has been concentrating on his kids fiction with Watchdog (2017) The Future Will Be BS-Free (2018) also worth investigating.
The Classmate was a terrific little book and I am not ashamed to say I shed a few tears at the end! Thirteen-year-old Ben is selected to take part in a special school program for gifted children and is sent to boarding school. He quickly realises that this is not a normal school as there is an angry spiky and very dangerous looking creature in the class who the teachers also treat as a pupil. Bizarrely, all pupils are fed instructions through an earbud, much of which involve how to interact with the creature, who is called Evie. Will it be possible to become friends with Evie? Go to the cinema with her any other normal stuff? Ben is an anxious boy and he finds himself becoming friends with Evie, without knowing the much bigger picture, which might involve the end of the world. This was a terrific book about friendship, acceptance, overcoming fears and has some really great sequences along the way. It finishes on a cliff-hanger and I really hope everything goes well for Evie. I totally loved this book. AGE RANGE 9-13.
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