I, Claudia

424p. Carolrhoda Lab. Oct. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781512448467.
Gr 8 Up—Claudia McCarthy is the (possibly unreliable) narrator of this modern take on I, Claudius. She leads readers through four years at the exclusive Los Angeles Imperial Day Academy. The teen is an amateur historian and an outsider who becomes more and more enmeshed in the inner political circle of the student senate and honor council. There are no friends at Imperial Day, only potential supporters and adversaries; alliances and allegiances shift constantly. Adults—both teachers and parents—are distant and mostly unimportant: the students determine who is popular, who is elected to office, and whose reputation will remain untarnished. This Lord of the Flies—like work is packed with political intrigue and maneuvering. Interspersed with Claudia's commentary are conversations with her therapist, as well as transcripts of an Imperial Day Board of Commissioners hearing, both of which add insight and uncertainty. McCoy's cast of schemers and sycophants is complex and finely detailed, and readers will never be quite sure of their motivations. The plot twists and expert foreshadowing will keep teens guessing.
VERDICT A must-read for YA fans of political thrillers or school-based stories.

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