Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri
(from the book jacket)
On a single night, five children suddenly vanish from their homes in Paris, Glasgow, Rome and London. Years later, five enigmatic teenagers make an impressive entrance at an exclusive New York holiday party with their strange governess, Madame Vileroy. Rumor and intrigue follow the Faust children to the elite Manhattan Marlowe School, where their very presence brings unexplainable misfortune.
Using “gifts” given to them by Madame Vileroy, these mysterious teenagers rise to suspicious heights at Marlowe. Though at first their abilities seem almost childlike in their simplicity, they soon learn that their newfound talents for cheating, stealing, hiding, and lying are far more potent then they had ever imagined – and far more addictive.
Ignoring the side effects of pursuing their individual obsessions, bargaining with the very devil in their midst as they claw their way to the top, these five ambitious teens draw ever nearer to their goals… until two of them uncover a secret even more shocking than their owe most unforgivable sins. Dialing up the ancient dilemma of indulgence versus redemption, this modern-day retelling of the Faustian bargain story, set in twenty-first-century Manhattan, provides a look into the cutthroat world of high-school competition that is both bitingly funny and scorchingly wicked.
I think it’s too long. I like how the book starts out by giving you a look at the life of the children so you can see why they made the deals that they did. But then the book kind of settles into them at school and I felt I was waiting for the point. It was good to see how the children were affected by the gifts and how they made use of them but the children’s stories seemed separate from each other to some extent and I got bored waiting for it to all come together. The sick, twisted relationship between Vileroy, the governess, and the children is interesting, the way that none of them like her but they want to please her and be her favorite. It’s kind of eerie to see the children become so dependant on her even though they know there is a cost for every ‘gift’. And you know Vileroy is evil as you see her manipulate the children but there was something about the way that it was written that had me waiting for something else. I was expecting something diabolical. I was expecting to find out she had a big plan and my expectations were disappointed. The climax of the story let me down too. The tension is building and you think there is going to be a reckoning but then it abruptly stops and fizzles out. There are some interesting ideas at the end and I appreciate that the ending isn’t perfect and sweet but I had a hard time getting there.