Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller (plus giveaway)

 Whenever a book describes itself as "gothic", I start to get nervous.  I LOVE gothics (especially Southern Gothics, but this one isn't, so I won't go there right now).  Anyway, I am a huge fan of all gothics, but so many books claim they are gothic and just don't live up to my expectations.  This one, however, had several of my favorite gothic elements, PLUS some plot points that I can never pass up: a prep school setting, a mysterious and potentially sinister secret society, and a good fall/winter setting.  As much as working in a school has ruined my desire to actually be part of academia, I still love all the trappings, so this one was just perfect.  Click here for a detailed summary on the Goodreads page.

There were a few times the writing seriously bordered on pretentious for me.  I liked it and overall I was impressed, but it tried a little too hard to be all gothic-y at times.  It took itself very seriously.  Which I suppose fit into the whole academia theme, but it wasn't in a self-observant, ironic way.  It was in an unintentional way that just came across as trying to hard.  However, that complaint is minor compared to the fact that the author has an original voice, likable characters, and a great plot.  The "trying too hard" complaint is just a nit-pick really.  Overall I can safely vouch that the author has talent.

Entertainment Value
As far as entertainment is concerned, this one was on the mark for me.  I loved the academic setting, I loved the precocious main character (who was just odd enough to be interesting without becoming obnoxious), I loved her teacher (even though I felt old when I realized he's supposed to be my age), and I loved the secret society aspect of the plot.  I read it quickly and I don't think it's a particularly difficult book, but it's also not light.  It is a page-turner and it'll keep your interest.

I recommend it, particularly to those who like a good mystery, secret-society type books, or books with a prep-school setting.

Thanks to TLC for including me in the tour.  Click here for a full list of tour participants.

TLC and the publisher are also providing a giveaway copy to one of my blog readers.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment and be a US or Canadian resident (sorry internationals).  Bonus entry if you're a follower of the blog (please note in your comment).


  1. I saw this at the library yesterday and I guess I judged the book by its cover because I never picked it up and read what it was about. It sounds good. I'll have to add it to my TBR pile.

  2. I love reading all your book reviews. They have shown me all new books that I never would have picked out for myself.
    I also follow your blog!

  3. {i'm following your blog}

    I am leaving this note to let you know that I am following you. If you aren't already following me can you please return the favor and leave a comment on my most recent entry. Please and thank you! :)


  4. This is one I've been hearing a lot about lately! It looks good! I enjoy a gothic novel now and then.

    I follow your blog GFC

  5. Wow! I'm so glad you loved it! Thanks for being on the tour!

  6. Definitely would love to give this a read! (I follow you, via Bloglines!)

  7. "...just odd enough to be interesting without becoming obnoxious" was the selling point for me! Please count me in!

    And I follow, too. Thank you!

  8. Your review gave me so many reasons to read this book: a talented author, academic setting, a secret society and an odd, precocious main character sounds great!

    Please include me in your giveaway and thank you for hosting one!

    I'm a (new) follower of your blog!

  9. This looks really good! I'm a follower too :)

  10. I really want to read this book now. Thanks for your thoughts!

    GFC: Twisty J

  11. This book sounds so interesting!