Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nightmare Academy by Frank Peretti



book cover

Nightmare Academy
by Frank Peretti


ISBN-13: 9780849976179
Hardback: 314 pages
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
Released: 2002


Source: Library book sale.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Elijah and Elisha are teenage twins who, along with their parents, have been secretly commissioned by the President to investigate strange mysteries, crimes, and unusual occurrences. Their job is to find out not only what happened, but why.

The team has a new assignment: To find out what happened to a runaway teen who turned up totally out of his mind. Elijah and Elisha go undercover, posing as runaways, but the tables are turned when the twins are kidnapped out of a shelter for runaways. They wake up at an isolated academy where the teachers stress that there is no right or wrong. Over two weeks, the teens take such teachings to their logical outcome, and the twins try to stay sane and alive in an environment that becomes increasing violent.


My Review:
Nightmare Academy is a young adult suspense/horror novel. It reminded me of Lord of the Flies, but Peretti is more heavy-handed in making his point. This novel is the second in the series, but you don't have to read the first one (Hangman's Curse) to understand this one. However, I liked Hangman's Curse better.

The novel was fast-paced and a fast read. The twins were clever and engaging characters who were willing to stand up for what's right and to protect others. The suspense was created by the increasing physical danger to everybody and from trying to discover why this academy was created and by whom.

While the story was exciting, I was disappointed by the ending. The bad guys revealed their motive, but it didn't make sense to me. As I understand it, they didn't even believe in what they were teaching. And, thinking through their evil scheme, I don't see how they could manipulate things to get their desired results in a large, general population scenario. So they came across as rather cliche, unrealistic villains.

The twins and their parents were Christians, and the twins speak out at the academy for absolute truth and protecting the weak. There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting novel to Christian teens.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt from Chapter One
His mind told him, insisted, that he was running, putting one tattered, bleeding foot in front of the other--even though the ground did not move under his feet, turned when he did not, or inclined steeply upward though he saw no slope before him. He closed his eyes, but he could still see. He screamed, but he heard nothing. The pathway became a precipice and he tumbled headlong, falling through space. He was under water. He tried to swim; suddenly his groping arms were pulling him forward through hot, dry sand. The sky above was red like a sunset, the earth below as eye-buzzing purple--then green, then grey, then red as the sky turned green.

Where he was, or why, or when, or who, or how, he could not know, could never know.

There were no days, no hours, no moments, no way of knowing, no chance for knowing how long he'd been here.

Been where?

No place, at no particular time.

He was once a fifteen-year-old boy, cocky and wayward. He once had a brother, a sister, a father and mother. He had a name, a house, a school, and a life--and he thought he knew something. Maybe he thought he knew it all.

But that boy, and that time, and that life had become..nothing.

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6 comments:

Graham Toms said...

Your third paragraph most intrigued me, in a good way. You mentioned how the villains seemed unrealistic. Also, how you didn't see how they could manipulate things to get their desired result.

The author in the last few pages explains that the people running the Academy have been involved in the education system for the last 20 to 50 years. So there is the clue, for the last fifty years a socialist agenda has steered State school education. Interestingly, the levels of education in that time span have deteriorated in terms of basic standards but investment has increased. I would also say that though this world view, concepts of morality have become more, "relative". I would say that the equation to Lord of the Flies is far, but only so far as in the scenario for the immediate environment that the children were forced in. That would be the only equation.

In my opinion, the Author is really identifying the very possible influence of a socialist world view driving a State Education System. I see parallels between the Stalinist and Maoist systems. They of course are not Socialist, but both are influenced by the certain inference of humanities social evolution.

Peretti is some ways is more like a Christian version of a Margarette Atwood, Handmaidens Tale, or George Oswell's Animal Farm. Sorry if those comparisons seem a bit crazy.

Graham Toms said...

Ah....so, sorry, lot's of typos. My sincerest apologies.

Genre Reviewer said...

Graham,

Since I was trying not to spoil the ending in my review, I was vague in my original comment. But I suspect I was commenting on something different than you assume I was commenting about. Unfortunately, at this late date, I can no longer clarify my exact point.

I do know that I wasn't saying that the small, "school" environment they made (the "Lord of the Flies" action) was not possible. While I can't clearly recall exactly what the bad guys grand plan was, I was referring to that.

As I recall it, in this book, the bad guys never did believe what they taught and had no way to see that people in a general population rather than a highly-controlled environment weren't exposed to any other ideologies, which is necessary for their idea to work.

Graham Toms said...

"As I recall it, in this book, the bad guys never did believe what they taught and had no way to see that people in a general population rather than a highly-controlled environment weren't exposed to any other ideologies, which is necessary for their idea to work."

Sorry that paragraph confused me. Anyway, thanks for the considered response.

Genre Reviewer said...

Just because a person (or people) can get a certain result in a tightly-controlled environment doesn't mean it will occur in an uncontrolled environment.

As world events in the last few years have proved, people are exposed to many different beliefs in the real world and can come to question what they're taught. This is true even if the government is trying to suppress "other" beliefs, and it's especially true in the internet generation.

So the results the bad guys were getting in a high-tech, carefully controlled environment wouldn't seamlessly translate into the same results if tried in an uncontrolled environment. This was a serious flaw in their plan and one they needed to take into account if I was going to take them seriously.

Graham Toms said...

Just because a person (or people) can get a certain result in a tightly-controlled environment doesn't mean it will occur in an uncontrolled environment.
_____________________________
That's true, but how we measure that influence in an uncontrolled environment from a specifically controlled environment as an example would be the Public School system and corporately controlled social media outlets.

Duplicity and the use of propaganda over decades saying the same message and customizing that particular message to each successive generation can become a staple diet to a broader population.

I think the author successfully alludes to that and his message is actually quite astute. The soecific tools in which the protaganised used in this instance was surely just a vehicle to express that concern in a more digestible fashion. Though of course, the only sure way to test that hypothesis would be to Email the author.

Quite frankly, i'm far to lazy to go to that effort. It's more fun continuing the communication with you in this thread.