Author: Jeffrey Salane
288 Pages–Ages 8 to 12 (and up)
Published by: Scholastic Press on April 1, 2013
Summary (from jeffreysalane.com):
Break the rules. Save the world.
An action-packed, globe-spanning adventure begins here!
Welcome to Lawless, where the head of the class is a dangerous place to be.
M Freeman is the newest student at the prestigious (and mysterious) Lawless School. All she really wants is to fit in, but from the moment she arrives, her unusual skills have the whole academy buzzing. M excels at escape tactics. She’s a whiz at spotting a forgery. But can she tell right from wrong? She’ll have to figure it out fast, because some of her teachers are planning the crime of the century . . . and M and her classmates might be the only people who can stop them.
I read about this book on amazon.com a while ago and it sort of piqued my interest, but not really enough to actively seek the book out. However, when I was scouting the bookshelves of a thrift store out of sheer boredom I saw this and thought, “Why not? It’s really cheap; I might as well try it.” And so I bought it (along with Children of the Lamp). I don’t have any particular expectations for this, more like I’m just giving it a try.
When I first finished reading Lawless, I immediately thought, “That was a 5 out of 5 star book. It was practically perfect,” as evident be the fact that the moment I finished the book, I updated my rating on Goodreads. However, upon further reflection there are more than a few things that bother me about the book.
The first transgression this book made is that some of the red herrings were way too good that I when I figured out they were red herrings I was sorely disappointed. There’s really no point is guessing what’s going to happen next because there are just so many twists. I read into some story element as incredibly important but then they were never mentioned again and other elements which actually contributed to the plot I initially thought of as unimportant. I should probably give the book series the benefit of the doubt; I probably just read into many of the scenes and characters more than I should have.
In addition to there being a lot of red herrings, there were also some things that just went unexplained (I suppose they could also be red herrings? Nerveless these unexplained occurrences were extremely annoying). For example, why did Ms. Watts tell M not to trust Zara? That was never explained or touched upon in the latter half of the book. If Ms. Watts was trying to get M to trust her by telling her that it didn’t seem to really work. And since Zara was working for her, it doesn’t make sense that Ms. Watts doesn’t want M to trust Zara. It was all a very confusing part of the book. Of course, it could have just been a red herring for the reader so that the reader would think the Ms. Watts was part of the good guys, so to speak.
And that brings me to my third point; there were essentially no good guys here. In fact, there doesn’t really seem to be any good and evil in this world, just people. For most of the book I thought that the Fulbrights were the good guys and the Lawless students were the bad guys, but after what happened in the end of the book, that’s definitely not how it is. Actually, I was really confused with the ending. It happened incredibly fast and even now I’m not quite sure what happened or rather why it happened. Apparently a moon rock and a meteor somehow created a black hole that swallows the lawless school? And the even more interesting part is that the black hole was instigated by the Fulbrights. Nothing can escape a black hole and if there were people on the campus (who happen to stay at the school over semester bank) when it got sucked up in the black hole then the Fulbright would be directly responsible for the death of people which does not seem like something that fictionalized good guys do. The Fulbrights also did this in Germany when they lit a warehouse full of paintings on fire. It REALLY pained me when all those paintings went up in smoke. All that irreplaceable history! Anyway, by the end of the book it was clear: the Fulbrights are not the good guys (no matter what they say).
Despite everything that I just wrote, the biggest thing that I didn’t like about this book was basically that this book poses too many questions and provides barely any answers. Even if the author was setting up for the second book, that is no excuse to leave the first book in a mess of ambiguity.
In all honesty, the book was basically a testament to “The only honor among thieves is that there is none.”
While indeed, I had no trouble finishing the book. It’s unlikely I will ever pick up this specific book again. Giving the book series the benefit of the doubt I fully intend to read the other two books in the series and hope that all the unanswered questions get answered.
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