Review: Akarnae, Lynette Noni

March 18, 2015 Reviews 5 ★★★½

Review: Akarnae, Lynette NoniAkarnae by Lynette Noni
Series: The Medoran Chronicles #1
Published by Pantera Press on February 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 397
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings's world changes--literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her... but he's missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora's boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can't ignore her fear that something unexpected... something sinister... is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex's shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race's survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world--and maybe even her life--to save Medora?


Alex turns up to start the year at her new boarding school, only to step through a doorway into the Akarnae Academy – a school in the world of Medora. It’s not long before there’s a strange threat to the school and Alex must use her knowledge of the ancient and enigmatic Library to save more than one world.

With its doorway to another world, advanced technology and gifted students, Akarnae is like some kind of three-way cross between Harry Potter, X-Men and The Chronicles of Narnia.

I wanted so badly to enjoy this book, since it’s by a local author and sounded so amazing. The settings themselves are rich and fascinating (and, let’s be honest, it has an amazing cover), but unfortunately the characters felt a little two-dimensional to me. Add to that the fact that this first book in the series is almost entirely world-building and I really didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped to, although it did keep me engaged all the way through.

The main problems I had with the story were all character related. For example, Alex. Chosen, Called (which is a slightly different chosen one trope), has a special (unknown) power and is sought after by the baddy. She’s special and she knows it. I really hate to use the term Mary-Sue, but if there is an example of one, here she is.

Then there’s Bear and Jordan, who find her in the woods after she arrives in Medora and are instantly her besties. There supposedly hasn’t been anyone in Medora from Freya (Alex’s Earth) for hundreds, even thousands of years, but somehow Bear and Jordan know all about Freya and instantly know that Alex is from there. Bear says to Alex, “We’re very technologically advanced”. What? No-one would say that – wouldn’t they just think that other worlds were backwards? Also, I don’t believe for a second that these two aren’t a couple. They’re inseparable, practically finish each others sentences and are not interested in Alex “in that way” (at least, not yet). They’re caring, considerate and concerned about Alex. Sixteen year old boys just don’t work that way, at least not any that I know!

I should mention at this point that by the end of the story I did actually really enjoy Jordan and Bear’s banter and they were fleshed out as characters, but they were just kind of indistinguishable for a while there. There is a lot of very funny writing here which gives the book an overall younger feeling than its YA label. I’d put it more in an older middle-grade, teen bucket.

What kept me reading this book was that I was actually very interested in the story. The Library in the Academy is sentient, and Alex is one of the few who can access it and control its strange mazes and magical rooms. I was fascinated by the idea and will happily keep reading just to hear more about the Library!

three-half-stars – While this debut by Aussie author Lynette Noni didn’t quite tick all my boxes, she has created a fascinating world that is well worth checking out. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for Alex.

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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