Author: Jaimie Admans
North Pole Reform School is a quick, fun read, sure to brighten up your holiday season!
The story follows Mistletoe Bell (Mis) as she is swept off to North Pole Reform School – apparently she and her fellow classmates have all ruined Christmas for someone and they all have to learn the true value of Christmas before they can leave. They’re shown the true meaning of Christmas by the elves (mostly by performing different elf jobs like working on the naughty and nice list, answering Christmas letters and making toys). Mistletoe also finds herself falling for Luke, who needs to escape the North Pole for reasons he doesn’t want to talk about. Along the way Mistletoe and Luke learn the importance of Christmas, but they also learn that not everything is perfect, even in the happiest place on earth.
- Changing tone of the book. The main issue that I had with this book was the fact that the tone changed quite often – it starts out as kind of a snarky comedy (sometimes bordering on silly), and then gets serious – almost heavy – when Mistletoe and Luke start to learn about the meaning of Christmas (and when Mistletoe learns why Luke needs to get back home so badly), and then suddenly swerves into horror territory with the zombies. I kept finding myself surprised at the shifts in the book and I didn’t always feel that it was one cohesive whole. I still enjoyed the book for all of its aspects, I just wish they had blended a bit better for me.
- Telling vs. showing when it came to the romance. Overall, I actually really liked the romance in this book, but there were some instances where the author seems to want to make SURE that we know a romance is brewing by throwing in lines like, “He’s sweet and he makes me laugh, and he seems to like me too.” We’ve already seen this by their actions, so I didn’t feel like the author needed to spell it out for us this way (at least not unless Mistletoe was going to express some real emotion that we might not see otherwise). There are several instances of this and each time it struck me as odd – as if the author thought we might not have quite caught on to the fact that Mistletoe and Luke were headed for romance. (NOTE: Since I wrote this review and posted it on Goodreads, the author actually contacted me and said that she has gone through the book to rectify this issue. So, this might not even be a problem at all in the near future!)
- The snarky humor. A lot of the humor in this book kind of reminded me of the fun snarky lines on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (my favorite show of all time – partially for just this reason). Both Mis and Luke have smart mouths and a snide sense of humor that they are ready to use at a moment’s notice. But they still didn’t come off as being irritating or jerks – they were likable snarky characters! I loved scenes where the snark took center stage – for instance, at the beginning, the elves couldn’t seem to get a word in edgewise and just ended up frustrated all the time because their “students” were pelting them with a barrage of snarky questions. It was great fun!
- The zany characters. This book is full of unique and crazy characters. From mean Santa’s to duck phobic classmates to misquoting elves, there was plenty of wackiness going on. While I did find a couple of the running gags were a bit over-used, I still really enjoyed these interesting characters and their antics!
- The romance. I loved Mis and Luke together. First of all, the romance was developed relatively slowly, which I appreciated. I loved that they originally bonded through their mutual sense of irritation at the situation that they were in, but that their bond got deeper as they both started to realize the true meaning of Christmas together. These two were a sweet couple who I found myself rooting for and wanted to see happy – their relationship tied up with a nice bow, just like the Christmas presents all around them!