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Shira Brazille, the rags-to-riches self-proclaimed billionaire from Australia, has a plan “…to advance the female genome for future generations.” She has invited 100 of the most promising teenage girls from across the world, who have the ability to be tops in their field, to a secret island to hone their craft. Shira has spared no expense. Each girl has at her fingertips a muse, the latest technology, world-class facilities and personal tutors, among other exclusive amenities. Shira has just a few rules for the girls on their quest to becoming Alphas: embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by putting forth your best effort and, oh yeah, stay away from her five gorgeous teenage sons.

Perfection has been expected from Skye Hamilton ever since she set foot inside a dance studio. Her former Russian ballerina mother and mogul father have financed her every move, and it all has been leading up to her exclusive invitation to be part of Shira Brazille’s Alpha Academy. Skye has never lacked confidence on the dance floor, willing her body to obey her every command. But how will she stack up to the new fierce competition?

Allie J. Abbot, the brilliant singer-songwriter, is tearing up the charts with her infectious lyrics and eco-friendly messages. Allie Abbot, on the other hand, is reeling from a horrible breakup as her ex hooked up with her “best friend.” Allie Abbot saw the golden invitation mistakenly mailed to her as a chance to get away from her latest teenage drama. A little hair dye and one perfectly drawn-in mole and Allie Abbot, I mean Allie J., is ready to take over Alpha Academy. Now if only she can hold it together until someone realizes she’s a fraud.

Charlotte “Charlie” Deery has spent the last 12 years with her mother designing Alpha Academy. During that time, Charlie created much of the technology outfitted on the hidden island and fell in love with the last person Shira expected --- her oldest son Darwin. Now Shira has given Charlie a choice: leave or break up with Darwin and become an Alpha. Charlie is reluctant to leave her creation, so she breaks it off with Darwin with the hope of reuniting with him once things settle down.

At first, life in the academy runs smoothly. Girls try and establish friendships --- and dominance --- in classes and their suites. Midnight excursions to meet the Brazille boys are light and fun. The weather is perfect, and the nighttime entertainment is first-class. Then Shira drops a bomb. She kicks out a girl for secretly seeing her sons (how did she know?) and reveals that Alphas was designed to find her heir. One down, 98 to go, and everyone wants to be the last one standing.

Lisi Harrison seems to have her fingers on the pulse of teenage girls. Her books are chock full of expressions and pop culture references that appeal to any girl. The storyline and setting may seem out of reach for most, but Harrison casually invites the reader to become part of the ultra-exclusive world she has created and succeeds every time. Her characters also seem real. Each of them is filled with the usual teenage angst, but also the slight ADD that accompanies any kid not always under the watchful eye of an authority figure. Anyone who has enjoyed the bestselling Clique series will want to snatch up this new series in a heartbeat.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 25, 2009

by Lisi Harrison

  • Publication Date: August 25, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy
  • ISBN-10: 0316035793
  • ISBN-13: 9780316035798