Valicity Garris’s Cross Academy is an exciting, dystopian novel filled with world-shaking battles, behind-the-scenes scheming, and enduring friendship presented in a style heavily influenced by anime. While most of the characters are quite young, including teenage protagonist Fox Fire, this doesn’t read as a Young Adult novel, and readers of all ages can find something to like in it.
A demon apocalypse has destroyed the Earth, leaving humanity in tatters: primitive tribes eke out an existence behind concentric rings of walls that tend to keep the haves from the have-nots as much as they keep demons out. Faith in God is all but unheard of except for a few whispers until a terrible cataclysm puts Fox and the surviving villagers behind the much more secure walls of Cross Academy, the last remnants of a technological civilization devoted to fighting the demons.
Ms. Garris’s love for anime shines through in not just the diverse names of her characters (Diaz, Hosenke, Izzy, Vehenort), but the frequent combat that features shapeshifting weapons, punishing blasts of water, and hook-swords going up against half-human spiders, trolls, and hordes of SynApes that have to be seen to be believed. Her descriptive style paints a vivid picture, putting you right in the center of the action.
Each character has his or her own unique personality, which adds depth to the story while maintaining the theme. They’re often forced to make terrible decisions under extreme circumstances, and the outcomes of those decisions weigh heavily later on.
It’s clear that the author is gearing up for more stories in the Cross Academy universe, despite that this is a complete tale on its own. I look forward to the next one, and hope the wait won’t be too long.