Alexandra Jennings is a sixteen year-old girl with archaeologists for parents. This means that every few months or so, she moves to some new country for their work. Sent to a rigid, dreary boarding school for eight months while her parents fly off to a remote dig-site in Siberia, Alex is not looking forward to figuring out how high school actually works when you’re there longer than three months. But when she gets there, she impossibly steps through a doorway into a different universe. She is now in Medora, a world where people are born with powers and technology is so advanced it could be called magic. Bewildered by all this new information, Alex has no choice but to enroll at Akarnae, the school for those who are gifted, until it's mysterious headmaster returns and can send her back to Earth. It turns out that she supposedly has a gift as well, although she doesn’t have the slightest idea what it could be, or how she will fit in at Akarnae when she isn’t really all that special. However, she starts to doubt this when odd things start happening to Alex and secrets of Akarnae’s strange and seemingly magical Library are revealed to her alone. Suddenly, Akarnae isn’t as safe as it once was, and everyone is in danger. Alex may not be from Medora, but she may very well be the key to its survival.
Alex is a strong and personable main character and makes a good backbone for the story. She quickly makes loyal friends who are extremely likable and help her assimilate into her new life. The reader is kept in the dark about many things that are slowly revealed throughout the book, and some things are still cryptic at the end, leaving the reader wondering what happens next. The characters are all very realistic and three-dimensional, with only a few exceptions. While the plot follows the generic “Chosen One” structure, it has its own unique aspects that help it stand out, like how everything magical is actually extremely advanced technology, and how the Library could be seen as a living entity and is crucial to the story. The end brings resolution, but also new things to be discovered in later books, which keeps the book’s audience hooked and wanting more. Despite its typical baseline, this novel is a refreshingly new take on fantasy and was an enjoyable read for me. I recommend it for those reluctant to read fantasy or anyone who wants a fun, easy read. Akarnae is the first book in the Medoran Chronicles.