Fantasy Island: Alphas by Lisi Harrison
WELCOME TO THE INAUGURAL CLASS OF ALPHA ACADEMY. THOUSANDS OF GIRLS ANSWERED THE ALPHA CALL OVER THE LAST YEAR. ONE HUNDRED HAVE BEEN SELECTED. THE FITTEST SHALL SURVIVE.
WHILE MY LEGACY WILL LIVE FOREVER, I MAY NOT. SHOULD I EVENTUALLY PASS, I WILL LEAVE BEHIND ONE HUNDRED GIRLS FOREVER CHANGED BY ALPHA ACADEMY.
BUT A TRUE ALPHA IS MORE THAN HER RESUME. SHE IS MORE THAN PERFECT PITCH, A PERFECT TURNOUT, A PERFECT TEN, OR EVEN A PERFECT IQ. SHE IS A MACHINE WITH HEART. SHE IS THE FUTURE.
SHE IS YOU.
Skye Hamilton, the former queen of the eighth-grade DSL Daters at Octavian Country Day School, is more than thrilled when she receives her acceptance to Alpha Academy, the exclusive prep school designed by Shira Brazille (femme mega-magnate who is bigger than Oprah). Skye, first introduced in the best-selling The Clique series, has few doubts that she is meant to be the alpha of alphas, and with a wardrobe of her signature dance sleeves and her mom's old ballet shoe as a lucky talisman, she leaves her old world behind without a tear, knowing she will be the best dancer there and that her #1 HAD (hope and dream), "make her mother proud," will be fulfilled.
But as her PAP (Personal Alpha Plane) approaches the womanmade "a" shaped Alpha Island carved out of the desert that is her new world, even Skye is a bit intimidated. Alpha is itself a futuristic world, with automated private baths and spas for each alpha and Draconian electronic surveillance that makes Hogwarts look like Girl Scout camp. The other alphas, which Shira terms "hypenates"--an environmentalist-poetess, a dance-model-actress, a junior Wimbleton winner-inventor, a Bollywood film star-cell phone novelist--are also intimidating in their abilities and self confidence, and as Skye struggles to keep up the pace, even in dance class, she suddenly realizes that she feels like an alpha minus. It doesn't help that Alpha Academy's competition is sharpened by Shira's reality-show structure--one slip and you're expelled, demoted to lifelong LBR status--until only one girl, the alpha of alphas, is left standing at the end of the year.
But Skye soon learns that she, the sophisticate of OCDS, has a long way to go to qualify for the last girl standing. Alpha's social structure doesn't encourage friendship and trust, and among Skye's roommates in the Jackie O residence hall she finds herself contending with "Triple Threat," dancer-model-actress who seems the favorite of dance master Mimi, Allie J., the barefoot environmentalist-poetess-recording artist, Renee, a.k.a Rayne Storm, nee Rachel Martin, soap star, and Charlie Deery, a pretty but not obviously talented late entry into their dorm who seems to know much more than she admits.
Allie J. and Charlie have their own reasons to fear the competition. Allie J. is actually Allie A. Abbott, main talent mall model, who, having received the acceptance letter for her neighbor, folksinger-poet Allie J. Abbott, has dyed her hair black, acquired green contact lenses and a flower-child wardrobe of thrift store white dresses, and faked Allie J.'s trademark mole, to transform herself into a virtual doppelganger in order to assume a place at Alpha.
Charlie has a different story. A technical designer of genius-level ability, Charlie, the only child of Shira's indispensable personal assistant Bee Deery, is the clandestine inventor of most of Alpha Island's technology. The daughter of an employee, Charlie is ineligible for Alpha Academy until a vacancy occurs at the last moment and her mother selflessly agrees to give up her plum position to enable her to join the class. A place at Alpha for Charlie comes with another sacrifice--Charlie must promise Shira she will give up her romance with Darwin, one of Shira's five HAWT teen sons, and, as she soon learns, to act as Shira's spy in keeping the rest of the alphas--residents of Jacki O, Beyonce, Hilary Clinton, Oprah dorms--away from her boys.
As Skye, Triple Threat, and Renee vie for top dog status, especially in fashioning ways to get around the no-romance-with-Shira's-sons prohibition, Allie is a reluctant follower, who surprisingly finds herself catching the eye of Darwin Brazille, Charlie's now ex, and is thus drawn into secret meetings by night with the others. Charlie is heartsick as Allie also falls just as hard for Darwin, and is torn between her need for friends and the necessity for tattling on them in order to stay at Alpha. When an opportunity to steal Shira's electronic key which will grant herself and her roommates an underground access to the five boys, Charlie has to decide what that choice really means for her future.
As usual, Lisi Harrison's new Alphas #1, the first in a proposed series, sets up her characters as intrinsic rivals and inevitably a Byzantine conflict results. As in her best-selling series, the power-seeking machinations of her alpha girls are glossed over with a bit of redemptive self-understanding gleaned from their conflict and satisfying equal-opportunity comeuppances for the worst of the social climbers in the group. This new series will indisputably strike a nerve with early teen girls who will recognize the types Harrison portrays so fluently in both series and enjoy watching their conniving work itself out at a vicariously safe distance.
The second book in this series, Alphas #2, is set for publication in April of 2010.