There is only one thing I hate about this book: it's too damn short! I could have kept on reading Academy 7 for another 500 pages - it was just that good.
Don't be fooled by the cover: Academy 7 is Science Fiction YA. But like all good Science Fiction it is about so much more than space, it's about character. And even while it is all about character, it's also about politics, and intelligence, and standing up and thinking for yourself. Academy 7 managed to weave a complex world behind the main narrative - a world both believable and intriguing that would have kept me hooked even if I hadn't liked the main story. It's part what makes any book great, but in Academy 7 it is what made it brilliant.
While there was a romance between the two main characters - Aerin and Dane - Academy 7 wasn't about them getting together... it was about them getting over the misery that had been their lives. Both Aerin and Dane reminded me, in a way, of Katniss from The Hunger Games. Neither one of them wanted to open up to each other, but life brought them together to do just that. I love it when characters need to overcome real emotional obstacles... when their bond with another character develops out of the mistrust that everyone feels for strangers. Aerin and Dane were complex individuals, and watching them grow together was just beautiful...
I also loved how intellectual this book was. Academy 7 is an institute that brings together the brightest minds in the galaxy, and it shows. Aerin and Dane are there because of their extraordinary intelligence, and Anne Osterlund lets it shine through the pages.
In case you hadn't gathered, I just loved this book. There were a few flaws, mainly due to the short length of the novel. I think Anne Osterlund had enough plot to fill at least 100 more pages and it was a shame to see some pretty key scenes rushed into a few pages. But the somewhat-uneven pacing is not enough to distract from the sheer brilliance of this novel.
Bottom line? Academy 7 is a stunning, emotional, and realistic novel. I adored the characters, the verse, and - hell - even the villains. When I say YA fiction can be astounding, this is the type of novel I'm talking about!