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The Apprentices

Review

The Apprentices

In this follow-up to THE APOTHECARY, Maile Meloy raises the stakes for her talented young protagonists.

Maile Meloy's debut novel for young people, THE APOTHECARY, ended on a satisfying note, but also with most readers hopeful for a sequel. Now these lucky readers have got one with THE APPRENTICES, a thrilling tale that continues the story of Janie, Benjamin and Pip two years after the dramatic close of the previous novel.

Janie is 16 years old and still has only hazy memories of what happened in London two years earlier. Her friend (and first love) Benjamin Burrows and his father have erased her memories, and she only knows what happened based on the diary Benjamin finally decided to share with her. Janie still has plenty of questions --- but now she's at a New England boarding school while Benjamin is somewhere halfway around the world with his father.

"THE APPRENTICES is a thoroughly enjoyable whirlwind of a novel, a fitting follow-up to Meloy's popular debut."

Janie receives periodic letters from Benjamin that seem to make no sense --- but she can't be bothered with trying to decipher them while she engages in the all-consuming project of developing an easy method for desalinizing water. Janie's on the verge of a breakthrough when her jealous roommate (and her roommate's creepy dad) manage to get Janie expelled from school. Desperate to continue her studies, Janie lies to the school, hides from her parents and takes up residence with a local family who owns an Italian restaurant. Their son, Raffaello, is eager to show Janie a normal life (complete with romance,) but soon Benjamin contacts Janie using a new method that piques Janie's interest and eventually panics Benjamin enough to contact their mutual friend Pip for emergency reinforcements.

THE APPRENTICES is a thoroughly enjoyable whirlwind of a novel, a fitting follow-up to Meloy's popular debut. Readers may have a hard time initially getting into the story, given that the three main characters are separated by thousands of miles at the outset and so are missing the interpersonal interchanges that, in part, made THE APOTHECARY so enjoyable. But there's plenty of romance and intrigue to go around here, too, and by the time our heroes are reunited, readers will be hooked.

As usual, brash young actor Pip provides most of the comic relief, while Janie and Benjamin's stories heighten the drama. THE APPRENTICES lacks the direct historical connection of its predecessor, but it still offers plenty of twists, exotic locations and delightfully dastardly villains. The end of the novel finds the stakes raised considerably for Janie and her friends --- once again, readers will find themselves clamoring for a continuation of their adventures.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 26, 2013

The Apprentices
by Maile Meloy

  • Publication Date: June 4, 2013
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
  • ISBN-10: 0399162453
  • ISBN-13: 9780399162459