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Breksta’s Academy

Breksta's Academy

By: Natasha Quay
Publisher: Ensisheim Partners LLC
Publication Date: November 13, 2023
ISBN: 979-8218229467
Reviewed by: Rebecca Jane Johnson
Review Date: March 23, 2024

Breksta’s Academy is a dystopian fantasy that reveals the ways friendship overcomes the thirst for vengeance. This novel tells the story of a young girl, Breksta, whose mother is killed by angry militants. Breksta is taken from her peaceful home and raised by an oppressive regime that forces her to enlist in a military academy. Once a free spirit who played in forests, built fairy houses, and picnicked with her gentle mother, Breksta must learn to shoot a rifle and spar with peers. In classes, her teachers use physical brutality to punish whatever behaviors the tyrannical director regards as defiant. Readers feel sympathy for Breksta who learns her mother was the leader of a group called the Dreamers, people who use magical power and who are at war with the US. For this connection to the Dreamers, Breksta is a target of Madam Director’s desire for revenge.

It’s a relief when Breksta meets a roommate, Hestia, who is kind, and the two vow to be trusting friends. When Breksta is accused of attempting to drown Hestia (she was really trying to save Hestia), Breksta serves time in solitary confinement. Hestia soon proves herself to be a devoted friend and then throughout the rest of the novel their friendship is tested in various ways.

Over the course of the novel, Breksta keeps her Dreamer identity suppressed while she also tries to learn about herself as a Dreamer and be an accommodating cadet. Who are the Dreamers as wielders of magic or special powers? What was the source of the conflict between the US military and the Dreamers? These are questions that don’t get their due development in the novel. Breksta’s character is passive. The way she finds out that she also has magic feels anticlimactic. Character development depends a lot on characters acting out of pure vengeance to eradicate all Dreamers.

The strengths of this book lie in its overall message that friendship conquers hatred and heroes risk their lives for justice. A memorable quote is from early in the novel, when Breksta’s mother encourages her, “But you are kind, Breksta. As you were kind to that wolf and everyone you have ever met, despite any potential danger or consequence. I believe you will one day earn your place beside the legends of old as an even greater warrior. Not for your superiority, but for your clarity of mind and purity of heart” (page 89). It’s Breksta’s friendship with Hestia that slowly reveals her purity of heart. It’s her ability to see past the military Academy’s illusion of “us versus them” that reveals Breksta’s clarity of mind. The story is well crafted in terms of sensational events, although it moves slowly due to a lack of character development. Breksta’s motivating desires are vague, and it’s more than halfway through the book before Breksta and her friend Hestia promise to travel and find peace after they graduate from the Academy, a motivating desire whose urgency does not match the violence that looms large, permeating every page of this Orwellian epic.

Quill says: Breksta’s Academy is a dystopian fantasy with a clear message: when violence battles magic, neither is more powerful than building friendship and taking courageous action in the name of justice over vengeance.

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