When her archeologist parents get a dream trip to Siberia leaving them unreachable for the next 8 months, 16 year old Alexandra Jennings is sent to the International Exchange Academy. Since she is experienced at starting new schools because of her parent’s nomadic life, Alex isn’t looking forward to her first day. When it begins less than auspiciously, she isn’t surprised, but then things take a really strange turn. She finds herself propelled into a parallel world known as Medora, where technological marvels and danger go hand in hand. Stranded, Alex begins attending the Akarnae Academy for gifted teenagers until it’s headmaster, Professor Marcelle returns from his travels, for she is told he is the only one who can return her to her world. While she is surrounded by more friends than she’s ever had, and she enjoys “most” of her classes, Alex can’t help feeling there is something wrong, and that it has to do with her. Will her as yet unknown gift be enough to not only save herself, but Medora itself?
I absolutely LOVED this first novel in what the author says will be a 5 book series. While slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter, Akarnae combines technology and magical elements into something completely unique. Not only are there doorways that can take you to different worlds, but there are lollipops that test your potential, disappearing bookstores, and best of all, a sentient library! With innumerable doorways, paintings you can walk in and out of, moving carpet squares, secret levels, and hidden rooms, this is the coolest library ever! Then there’s the student’s gifts which can be anything from turning invisible, to being able to charm people. Alex is a wonderful character who I instantly fell in love with, and her friendship with Jordan and Bear is at turns, amusing and touching. No mere comedic sidekicks, both of these guys have interesting backstories which I’m sure will be explored more in subsequent books. You know how you can just tell when an author has poured their heart and soul into a book? Akarnae is one of those. I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Anyone who enjoys fantasy and science fiction will fall in love with the world and characters that Lynette Noni has so lovingly created. My only disappointment is that the second book isn’t out yet.