Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund (Published by Penguin Books, May 14, 2009)
Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin are both seventeen-year-old freshmen at the universe’s most exclusive school, Academy 7. But aside from that, they couldn’t be more different. Aerin has had a very hard life. She has never known her mother, and her father died when she was just eleven, after which Aerin was captured and forced into slavery for six long years, until she finally was able to escape. Dane Madousin was born to privilege, the son of an esteemed general. But the only thing he really wanted was his father’s love, which no matter how hard he tried, he never seemed to be able to earn.
When Dane, in an attempt to rebel against his father, plays a prank at school, he gets Aerin in trouble as well. Resenting him for his easy life and for causing her to be punished as well, at first she resolves that she will have nothing to do with him. But against her better judgment, they become close friends, and she shares the secrets of her past with him. And soon Aerin and Dane begin to suspect that an even bigger secret is being hidden at the school.
Academy 7 is one of my favorite teen fiction reads so far this year. Aerin and Dane, although they live in a futuristic world, are easy to relate to and have many of the same problems teens today face - Aerin struggles to blend in at school as she struggles emotionally with her past, while Dane longs for acceptance from his father and acts out rebelliously as a result of never gaining it. Throughout the novel they grow both as individuals and in their growing relationship with each other. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy teen fiction. It honestly has something in it for everyone - science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and a story of friendship and romance.