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This is the second in Jane Beaton's series of boarding school stories. I loved the first in the series 'Class' and couldn't wait to read this one - and I wasn't disappointed!
Maggie returns for her second year at Downey House and once again she is back dealing with her sometimes frustating girls as well as coping with her conflicting feelings for fiance Stan and English teacher, David. There are of course new characters, including Zelda, an American girl starting at the school, and Head Teacher, Veronica continues to deal with her past, now that her son Daniel is working at the nearby boys school.
I couldn't wait to read this book and I finished it quickly. I still love the developing romance between Maggie and David and the cliffhanger type ending left me desperate to read on and hoping that book 3 isn't too far in the furture! Once again, some of the poems featured in the book are also included at the end and this time we also get some details of the dances featured in the book which is a nice touch.
If you like the first year at Downey House, you'll love this!
It's the second year at Downey House and things are about to get a little bit more exciting. Maggie Adair is still torn between the dashing David, the English teacher from Downey Boys, and her Scottish fiance Stan. Head-mistress Veronica Deveral still doesn't know what to do about her secret son Daniel - tell everyone and risk losing everything or don't tell a soul and risk losing Daniel? Alice, Fliss and Simone have finally settled into a happy friendship but when new girl Zelda moves into their dorm room, can their friendship stay in tact? One thing's for sure: it's going to be another difficult year at Downey House.
Having adored Jane Beaton's debut novel Class, I was thrilled to learn there was going to be a second in the series (and - hopefully - a third, fourth, fifth & sixth) which was supposed to be released in August last year. For some inexplicable reason the release date was changed from August 2009 until March 2010 which was a shame as I was really looking forward to it. It's fair to say that I've waited months for Rules and I have finally read it!
Rules starts much the same way as Class: with a quick rundown of all the main characters in the book. It may seem like a lot of characters on first read, but most of them only make rare appearances and there's only 6 or 7 who are our core characters, the rest are merely name-dropped during the book. The book starts just before term-time at Downey House is due to start and we catch up with our core characters: English teacher Maggie, head-mistress Veronica & students Fliss, Alice and Simone. After a quick catch up with the characters, it's the start of term time and the book then spans an entire school year, much like it's predecessor.
The characters, like in the first book, were all hugely enjoyable. Maggie is easy to relate to as although she's been at Downey House for an entire school year, she still finds herself feeling like a fish out of water. She did irritate me a little bit, though, and I'll elaborate on that more further down. Although head-mistress Veronica Deveral should come across as a bit cold and unsympathetic, I find myself warming to her more and more as the books progress. I have a huge soft spot for Veronica and felt so sorry for her throughout her turmoil about whether she should (or shouldn't) tell the world about her secret son, Daniel. Being a teenager myself, I find it incredibly easy to relate to Alice, Fliss, Simone and Zelda. Yes, they're slightly younger than me, but they're still relateable. Fliss wasn't very pleasant in Class but I liked her more in Rules. She has a few problems and I felt so sad for her. I can't say I liked Alice very much but she's an OK character. I loved Simone in Class and loved her just as more in Rules. She was treated so much better in book two and it finally seemed as if she were accepted at Downey House. Zelda was the new girl, who had moved over with her mother and soldier father from the USA, and she was rebellious and didn't really care what people thought about her. She's the kind of girl everyone wishes they could be like! There were many more characters in the book but none really made a lasting impression.
As much as I enjoyed Rules I did feel the love triangle between Maggie, David and Stan got old really fast. All throughout Class, Maggie was torn between two men and it carries on throughout Rules. I'm all for a love triangle but when it's clearly obvious who she should be with and she chooses the other, it gets kind of boring. For me, that was the weak link of the book and if the love triangle carries on in further books without any kind of different decision being made by Maggie, I will end up getting completely fed up of it.
I do however love how unique the Downey House books are. As Jane herself says, there are no other boarding house series' around for people other than children to enjoy. Jane has definitely carved herself a little niche with her series of books and I've never wanted to go to boarding school more. Jane's writing probably wouldn't set the world of fire but I find it very easy to follow and I love the constant changes of perspective. The book easily flits from Maggie's to Veronica's to Alice/Fliss/Simone/Zelda's points of view and it really makes the book flow. Since the book is so short (my copy has only 248 pages although I have no idea how many pages the actual book will have) it easily covers the entire school year without getting bogged down at all.
Rules is a hugely enjoyable book and bar my little criticism, I hugely enjoyed reading the book. As soon as it arrived I picked it up and finished it only a day later. It's a very quick read and follows on easily from Class. If you haven't read either books but love a good boarding school series, then the Downey House books are for you. The books have wide appeal and cater to all ages and I can't wait to read any other books in the series.